By John Dixon, Texas Instruments
powermanagementdesignline.com (September 24, 2008)
In early days, getting a lower power CPU typically meant sacrificing functionality, running at reduced clock speeds, or waiting for new low power process technologies to reduce both Standby and Active power. This is no longer the case by any means, and the processor landscape has changed dramatically.
Advances in processing technology along with innovative chip designs and high-granulation power management software have brought entirely new families of low power processors where designers no longer need to make sacrifices in their system designs.
Of course, no one device "has it all," so engineers must consider their system requirements carefully and then examine the now expanding range of low power processors to see which one best fits their application requirements.
This article summarizes the state of the art with a product-selection matrix (Table 1, below). One axis shows the following design criteria that are of chief concern to system designers:
The other axis lists the major processor variants based on their feature sets. This article then explains the meaning behind the generic criteria and how various types of processors earn their rankings in the table.
- Time to Market
This information achieves two goals: first, it alerts system designers to the newest types of processors on the market, some of which are relatively new and about which they might not be familiar; second, given this ever larger product palette, it helps them narrow down the selection of the best chip for a given design.
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