Mary Ann White, Synopsys
EETimes (4/18/2012 11:22 AM EDT)
Meeting power budgets for most System-on-Chip (SoC) designs today is no longer a requirement for mobile applications only. Almost every market segment today has some concern with designing in low power features—although the driving factor for why does differ among them. The primary impetus for low power design was initially driven by the mobile market due to the need for extending battery life; however, different segments do have different reasons for making power a primary design requirement.
For example, the advent of the internet and social media heavily drives the Servers and Networking Market segments where large server clouds and compute farms need to work reliably without overheating; so, their primary concern is reducing the amount of expensive energy required for operation and air conditioning. Other markets such as the multimedia and set top box segments are plugged into the wall but ‘green’ initiatives and the high cost of electricity have forced them into increasing energy efficiency through building in low power techniques similar to those used in the mobile application space.
Power is now a primary requirement for all designs – it’s not just about performance or area anymore and there are several factors that designers need to take into consideration to meet the stringent low power requirements. There are several key components that comprise a low power design and offer methods for controlling power:
- Technology process selection provides a power vs. performance vs. area tradeoff
- Architectural and implementation techniques offers power vs. complexity tradeoffs
- Optimization engines delivers on rapid time-to-market and quality of results
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