Power and its management are the common denominators cutting across all electronic systems and circuit designs, analog or digital.
Hi there! I'm Bill Schweber, and I'm taking over this column and this site from Nic Mokhoff, who will still be running some other DesignLine sites.
Some of you may recognize me from the associated Planet Analog and RF DesignLine sites I run under the EETimes/TechInsights umbrella. For those who are seeing me for the first time, a very brief background: I am a degreed EE, specializing in analog, with both theoretical and hands-on experience. So when I say "nonmonotonic," not only do I say it with absolute ease and comfort, I really know what it means and why it is important.
Enough about me, what about Power Management DesignLine and where it's going? In short, it will continue to do what it has been doing: bring you useful information of lasting value, with solid take-away lessons. Some of this will be tutorial, some will be application focused, some will be about products, and some will be "case studies" of how a specific problem and project was tackled. My objective here is two-fold: not to waste your time, and to have you say that the information we provided, whether feature stories or new products, was helpful to you now and in the future.
What's my view of engineering in general, and power management in particular? Let's start with the second question first. Power is like so many things in life: maybe you can't live with it and its constraints, but you certainly can't live without it, either. And yet, for most application—admittedly not all—power itself is not the selling point; it's an enabler of longer life or simplified cooling issues.
And that brings up another point: I distinguish between power-management issues where the objective is to save a few milliwatts to extend battery life, versus those where reasonably adequate input power is available (such as from a wall socket) but careful power management is needed to make the thermal situation acceptable. Both are power management, but they bring very different engineering challenges.
As for engineering itself, what's my perspective? Simple: I am enamored with the thrill of thinking up ideas, understanding and solving problems, debugging (yes, even that), fixing things which have broken, and bringing ideas to reality. To borrow the title of civil engineer Samuel Florman's book, it's all about The Existential Pleasures of Engineering. No one becomes an engineer because they are forced into it, they do it because they want to.
Note that this does not mean I necessarily love the final result of all this engineering prowess and creativity. I don't have the latest gadgets, I am not an early adopter (actually, I am way behind, living on the trailing edge), and I think a lot of what engineers are tasked with designing today's is trivial and actually demeans a highly respected profession. But I can separate that feeling from the adrenaline rush of a project and the race to its conclusion.
And I promise to try to keep future columns (excuse me, blogs) much shorter, really I do!.♦