Getting more (performance) for less (power)
Optimizing for low power in embedded MCU designs
How capacitive sensing can reduce standby power in household appliances
Using sensor controllers to reduce power consumption in mobile computing
Embedded developers have always been concerned about keeping the power-budget of their designs as low as possible while at the same time getting the performance needed for the application.
But now with concerns about the environment and conserving fuel, as well as the new wireless sensor environment in which embedded devices now operate things get much tougher. Often the only power available is from a carefully managed battery supply or collected from the ambient environment. Working against this is the higher degree of functionality – and demands for power – that current microprocessor and microcontroller-based SoCs exhibit.
Here are the links to some recent Embedded.com product and news stories, development articles as well as white papers, on line classes and webinars to help you work your way through the web of complexities and the variety of solutions available. Of these, my Editor's Top Picks are:
"Optimizing for low power in embedded MCU designs," in which Sachin Gupta and Madhan Kumar look at the major factors contributing to power consumption in an embedded system by analyzing the various power modes that most microcontrollers offer.
"How capacitive sensing can reduce standby power in household appliances," by Gerrit de Villiers shows how to use capacitive proximity sensors to reduce standby power in household appliances to well below 50 mW.
"Using sensor controllers to reduce power consumption in mobile computing," where Daniel Torres explains how a sensor controller can help reduce the overall system power consumption in mobile computing devices, and uses the MSP430 MCU to provide power consumption data.
Other relevant conferences papers and journal articles can be found in the Resources Around the Network section below the TechOnLine Library on the right. Such issues will among many others discussed at the ESC DESIGN West Conference next April. If you have a topic or design strategy you want to share with your fellow embedded systems designers, submit an abstract, the deadline for which is Nov. 2.
Taking advantage of new low-power modes on advanced microcontrollers
The author describes several common low power operating profiles and how they can be used to optimize a MCU's operation to meet specific system requirements. He also explains the tradeoffs involved with each, using a special battery life estimator.
Don't ignore zero standby for effective power reduction
One of the quickest and most efficient ways to achieve low power operation in embedded systems in consumer products, appliances, and portable electronics is more effective use of an electronic circuit's standby power modes.
Using drowsy cores to lower power in multicore SoCs
Freescale engineers describe a cascading power management technique that steers tasks to a smaller number of cores during non-peak activity periods so that the idle cores can enter a minimal-power or "drowsy" state.
Power aware verification of ARM-based designs
How to deal with the challenges of power aware verification in SoCs and use IEEE 1801-2009 Unified Power Format to define power management architecture for verifying a power-managed ARM-based design. (Paper from ARM TechCon 2010.)
Optimal digital power control using LLC resonant converters
The authors describe a digital power control implementation using line level control (LLC) resonant converters based on a flexible, 32-bit, low-cost, high-performance microcontroller. Key elements of digital power control are explored; including duty cycle control, dead-band adjustment in real time, frequency control, and adaptive thresholds for maintaining different safe operation regions.
The basics of low power programming on the Cortex-M0
In this article, Joseph Yiu, author of "The Definitive Guide to the Arm Cortex-M0," provides a brief introduction to some of the ways in which a programmer can take advantage of the processors low power features.
Microsemi rolls industry's only Flash-based FPGA with industry firsts in security and low power
Microsemi Corporation's new SmartFusion2 system-on-chip (SoC) field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) are designed to address fundamental requirements for advanced security, high reliability, and low power.
dsPIC33 "GS" DSCs enable digital control for power conversion apps
Microchip Technology Inc. has expanded its dsPIC DSC portfolio with the new dsPIC33FJ09GS302 family of dsPIC33 "GS" digital signal controllers (DSCs), adding lower-cost options for digital-power conversion.
8-bit PIC MCUs combine eXtreme Low Power, automated touch sensing
Microchip Technology Inc. has expanded its 8-bit eXtreme low Power (XLP) Enhanced Midrange Core PIC microcontrollers (MCUs), with the new PIC16F1512/13 devices.
Cortex-M4 MCUs consume 66% Less Power
Atmel Corporation has launched SAM4L family of ARM Cortex-M4 processor-based microcontrollers (MCUs) incorporating the company's proprietary ultra-low power picoPower technology.
Microchip's new Multipurpose Flash Plus devices deliver high speed, low power, small footprint for NOR Flash apps
Microchip Technology Inc. has expanded its Multipurpose Flash Plus (MPF+) portfolio with four new compact 512K x16 Parallel Flash CMOS devices.
COM Express module is powered by ultra-low-power AMD G-Series
The CEM100 from Axiomtek is a new low-power COM Express Type 2 module powered by either a single core AMD G-Series APU T40R at 1.0GHz or the dual core T56N at 1.65 GHz.
M2M software development kit for ultra low power Wi-Fi modules
RTX has launched a software development platform for its latest ultra low power Wi-Fi module, enabling application developers to bring M2M applications to market rapidly and cost effectively.
FRAM helps TI cut power for Wolverine MSP430 platform
Wolverine is the moniker chosen by Texas Instruments for an ultra-low-power MSP430 microcontroller platform launched here which provides 360 nA real-time clock mode - more than doubling battery life - and less than 100 μA/MHz active power consumption.
MIT and ST co-develop low power SoC MPU
An R&D project between the Microsystems Technology Laboratories (MTL) of Massachusetts Institute of Technology and STMicroelectronics has developed a reduced consumption 32-bit ultra-low-voltage microprocessor SoC which could be used in wireless sensors and implantable medical devices.
Cortex-M based MCUS use power profiles to optimize performance
With its latest Cortex-based LPC1100L and LPC1300L microcontrollers NXP Semiconductors is aiming to raise the benchmarks in 32-bit active power consumption.
GMS's rugged Atom-based SBC delivers high performance and low power consumption
Average power for the mil-spec, Atom-based board is just 3 W.
Energy management system merges embedded, wireless, cloud elements
A startup with a novel blend of application software, wireless control networking and cloud computing is entering the home/small-office energy-management market.