Saving Energy In The Fab


It’s not an exaggeration to say that integrated circuits are a critical component of any effort to reduce global carbon dioxide emissions. The most efficient engines depend on microcontrollers to optimize fuel consumption. Global shipping uses sophisticated simulators for load balancing and route planning. Computing power that once needed room-sized cooling units now fits in a battery-powered... » read more

One-On-One: Dark Silicon


Professor Michael Taylor’s research group at UC San Diego is studying ways to exploit dark silicon to optimize circuit designs for energy efficiency. He spoke with Semiconductor Engineering about the post-Dennard scaling regime, energy efficiency from integrated circuits all the way up to data centers, and how the manufacturing side can help. What follows are excerpts of that conversation. (F... » read more

How Long Will Your Battery Last?


Designing an IP block or memory subsystem to fit within a power budget is essential for building energy efficiency into hardware and software. There's only one catch—it's meaningless to the end customer. Twenty years ago this was a pretty straightforward formula. If you used a device consistently, whether it was a computer or a calculator or an electric motor, then you would burn up X numb... » read more

Making Software Better


Gauging the energy efficiency of software is a difficult task. There are many types of software, from embedded code all the way up to software that controls various modes of operation to downloaded applications. Some software interacts with other software, while other software works independently. And some works better on one SoC configuration than another, or on one iteration of an operating s... » read more

What’s Wrong With Power Signoff


Reducing power has emerged as the most pressing issue in the history of technology. On one hand, it’s the biggest opportunity the electronics industry has ever seen. On the other, the abuse of cheap power has been linked to global warming, human catastrophe, and geopolitical strife. In all cases, the semiconductor increasingly finds itself at the vortex of all of this, and making chips more e... » read more

The Denial Phase Is Over


For the last seven years—roughly since Apple first introduced the iPhone—the focus on power has become very real. In the past few years, that focus has shifted from power—how energy is used over time—to energy efficiency. This is more than just hair-splitting. It represents a fundamental and strategic shift for how SoCs and processors are architected, implemented and manufactured. ... » read more

Putting Energy In Perspective


The resurgent interest in 2.5D stacked die, the introduction of ultra-low-power memory and the relentless focus on low power for the Internet of Things are rather predictable progressions to engineers working in the semiconductor industry. What’s less obvious is how these changes are filtering out into the rest of the market and where it needs to go next. While many people have been talkin... » read more

Too Big To Handle?


By Ann Steffora Mutschler With the insatiable demand for power efficiency today, the power management tasks have been pushed up into the realm of the software engineer due to the sheer complexity of the hardware design and the demands on the hardware designer to get their part right. Managing power properly in embedded software boils down to really understanding the application and how it i... » read more

Unexpected Results


By Cary Chin In my ongoing quest to understand power efficiency at the product level of our amazing gadgets, I’ve been trying to set up experiments to compare 4G LTE and 3G data transmission. It seems to make intuitive sense that transferring data faster (my Speed Test runs show Verizon 4G LTE speed up to 20Mbps, vs. a maximum of around 700Kbps in 3G in and around Palo Alto) should consume m... » read more

Efficiency Vs. Accuracy


By Barry Pangrle If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. I wrote an article, Power vs. Accuracy, last year that discussed tradeoffs between power and accuracy for different applications. It turns out that for a number of processing applications, if every bit isn’t perfect, the impact on the final result might not be all that great. Anyone performing financial analytical... » read more

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