By Rodney Frazer, Altera Embedded.com -- (04/09/08, 03:21:00 PM EDT)
The rule of thumb in embedded system design has been that adding hardware increases power demands. The careful use of hardware accelerators, however, inverts the rule: adding hardware can reduce power.
By analyzing algorithms and implementing appropriate accelerators in programmable logic, developers can increase a design's performance while reducing power consumption in an embedded computing system.
Test results show that accelerators extend tradeoff options from as much as 200-fold performance improvement for the same power to the same performance with a 90% power reduction.
Programmable logic has, somewhat undeservedly, maintained a reputation from its early history as being a power-hungry approach to logic design. The rules of thumb have been that power consumption in an integrated circuit is roughly proportional to the chip's area for a given process technology, and a design implemented in programmable logic tends to be larger than if implemented in hard-wired logic. But these two factors, although suggestive, are misleading.
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