Every time we make progress, we set the stage for more demands and more challenges
The endless treadmill of engineering accomplishment and progress shows up in many ways. Sometimes, you have to wonder if we can say "enough, no more" and take a break–yet we know that's not going to happen.
Here's the dilemma for the power-subsystem design task: new, lower-power components and techniques, and better batteries and power supplies, are constantly developed and become available to designs. That's good. .
But the users (and marketers) also demand more functions and features, and so the power requirements go up, and you can't get ahead of the curve. And that's bad. .
I like to visualize this as a basic X-Y graph, with the vertical axis representing power and the horizontal axis representing the progress of time. The graph has two lines, starting at the lower left. One represents some metric of power, such as available power; the other is for aggregate power requirements of the unspecified product. The two lines–which may be sort-of straight or have a wavy shape–intertwine and chase above and below each other, as they move to the upper right. Much as we would like it, the line for available power can't get ahead of the line for power demand. So, just as work often expands to fill available time, power demands expand to consume what's available from the source.
Is it frustrating? Sure? Is it new? Not really: it's also characteristic of the reality that accompanies advances in science and technology, which we have seen over and over again. Get used to it, it's not going to change, either.♦