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Designing power for the masses

Posted: 30 Jan 2009 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:blog? power? designing masses?

By Russell Rathweg
Power Market Development


Visiting customers in Asia this month, we heard from each company a new found interest in EFFICIENCY. At one company in Beijing, we were told it was the new EuP Directive that will now have "Force of Law" to ensure compliance. Light load efficiency is a key component of these standards.

TI has the technology for great efficiency in our power designs from 10 % load to 100 % load. The challenge is to design a part that will meet the needs between 0 and 10%. One way to achieve this is similar to the way my SUV works, when the engine doesn't need all 8 cylinders then 4 will shut off providing better efficiency. In switching power circuits this is called skip mode or pulse skipping technique and we are employing this in many of our new DC to DC products.

Another way to help the light load efficiency is to reduce the voltage slightly in steps related to the amount of processing required at any given time. This technique called voltage scaling must be coordinated between power supply and the processor. Both function blocks (processor and power supply) must include this scheme the same way to be effective. Early coordination between designers can help achieve this.

This applies to a wide range of consumer products, not just STB. One very interesting segment is wall adaptors, I read somewhere that if all the wall adaptors that are expected to be plugged into the AC main in next few years had good light load efficiency then China will be able to cancel a number of power plants. If they save 5 power plants think of the building cost, energy cost and the carbon footprint savings. This is the 30,000 foot view of the importance to these regulating agencies.

- Russell Rathweg is one of the power and energy experts featured regularly at TInergy.

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