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EMBEDDED SYSTEM POWER Power design considerations for embedded systems

From Nigel Charig

As intelligent mobile devices become ever smaller yet more functional, supplying sufficient, high integrity battery power to their embedded systems becomes increasingly challenging. This article describes some techniques to address these challenges.

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Designers are under constant pressure to provide more functionality and performance to maintain a competitive edge, but enhancements demand more power.
Designers are under constant pressure to provide more functionality and performance to maintain a competitive edge, but enhancements demand more power.
(Source: Gualtiero Boffi - stock.adobe.com)

An embedded system provides real time computer processing power from a compact physical format. As such, it has a dedicated function within a larger mechanical or electronic system. Traditionally, the ‘larger system’ could be something like a factory machine, or a bank ATM. With the rise of the IoT, however, it is just as likely to be a smaller and often mobile device, such as a medical instrument, digital camera or card swipe machine – or a commercial, military or recreational UAV.

Clearly, mobile systems must be battery-powered – and this immediately creates a problem for their designers. They are under constant pressure to provide more functionality and performance to maintain a competitive edge, but enhancements demand more power. This reduces the operational time available between battery charges, and detracts from the product’s appeal. Meanwhile, there is usually also pressure to make the product smaller – leaving less room for a well-sized battery.