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Low-Power Always-On Circuits

What happens when things never shut down?

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Some circuits are always on. A smart phone wakes up when it senses a user, and a smart speaker responds to keywords. The challenge is to make sure these devices don’t consume a lot of power while the rest of a device is powered down, that it remains secure, and that it can quickly wake up whatever other functions are needed. All of this requires a significant amount of engineering work. Amol Borkar, director of product management and marketing for Cadence’s Tensilica Vision and AI DSPs, talks with Semiconductor Engineering about just how complicated this can get, what to watch for, and what can go wrong.



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