DVFS is Dead, Long Live Holistic DVFS

An industry survey some three years ago indicated only about one-quarter of all chip designers were using dynamic voltage and frequency scaling (DVFS). It’s likely most of those people who said they were implementing DVFS are deeply dependent upon a mobile operating system. For instance, Android offers a range of CPU governor software modules to optimize frequency and voltage levels for application throughput. While DVFS is already enabled in most hardened CPU and GPU cores, clusters and/or subsystems, the majority of SoC designers not tied to Android opt for simpler techniques like clock and power gating. Is there an opportunity for a more holistic DVFS approach that more SoC designers would embrace? Continue reading “DVFS is Dead, Long Live Holistic DVFS”

Taking Energy Back from Next-Generation MCU Designs

Microamp-per-megahertz thinking served the microcontroller (MCU) community well for decades. As the focus shifts to connectivity and always-on use cases, bigger cores and wireless IP blocks push energy use in the wrong direction. Next-generation MCUs can ill afford to spend more energy just to manage themselves. Any mandatory software to make an MCU run usually frustrates customers considering design-ins. How does the MCU ecosystem manage energy moving forward? Continue reading “Taking Energy Back from Next-Generation MCU Designs”

Free Trial Explores EPU IP and Automation

Last summer at 53DAC in Austin, Sonics rolled out a seminar with a formative strategy for its Energy Processing Unit, or EPU. After that session, I summarized the idea in my SemiWiki blog:

“The premise of an EPU is that power savings using software, even in a dedicated microcontroller, is relatively slow, perhaps 50 to 500 times slower than what hardware-based power control can handle. Faster speeds mean narrower moments of idle time can be exploited to save energy, and distributed, autonomous, deadlock-free ICE-Grain controllers mean many more of those moments can be processed all over the system-on-chip (SoC) – leaving the CPU to do real work.” Continue reading “Free Trial Explores EPU IP and Automation”