Doing the Low-Power Limbo | Bench Talk
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Bench Talk for Design Engineers

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Bench Talk for Design Engineers | The Official Blog of Mouser Electronics

Doing the Low-Power Limbo John Donovan

Back when they still made vinyl records the Limbo was a popular dance craze. Imported from the Caribbean via Chubby Checker, you’d try to dance yourself under a horizontal bar without falling flat on your back. The lower the bar went the more people would clap—up until the point where you crashed out and everyone laughed. The challenge was, “How low can you go?”

Engineers can relate to that. Ever since cell phones became wildly popular the race to see “how low you can go” in terms of power requirements has been joined by everyone in the electronics industry. Smart innovations have continually lowered the bar, with more than a little help from Moore’s Law. But with die shrinks now becoming extremely costly, the low-power problem is increasingly being addressed at the software and systems level.

Unlike with the Limbo, no one laughs when a product can’t live within its power budget—least of all investors. Progress is an incremental, iterative process, and failures provide a valuable learning experience. Sharing that experience is extremely helpful, hopefully with colleagues outside your company. That way the whole industry moves forward. A rising tide lifts all ships.

That’s the purpose of the trade press in my opinion: sharing design information—the good, the bad, and the ugly—so that the same costly mistakes aren’t repeated unnecessarily. In the case of low-power design that’s particularly important as it represents a complex, often expensive tradeoff against performance, often in ways that aren’t immediately obvious.

Covering that turf is the reason Mouser has asked me to blog regularly about low-power design. I’ve been focusing primarily on that issue for the past 10 years, first as the editor of Portable Design and then as editor/publisher of Low-Power Design. I have 30 years experience as a technical writer, editor and semiconductor PR flack, having survived earlier careers as a C programmer and microwave technician.

This blog will cover tips and techniques for low-power design but also industry trends and just shoot-from-the hip observations about interesting things that pop onto my radar. We’ll start this week with what’s happening at EE Live (aka ESC) in San Jose.

Best regards, and good luck doing the low-power Limbo!

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John Donovan is editor/publisher of and ex-Editor-in-Chief of Portable Design, Managing Editor of EDN Asia, and Asian editor of Circuits Assembly and Printed Circuit Fabrication. He has 30 years experience as a technical writer, editor and semiconductor PR flack, having survived earlier careers as a C programmer and microwave technician.

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