SAN JOSE, Calif. Does anybody care about "green design"? It may not be a very popular subject in the embedded electronics world.
But at the Embedded Systems Conference (ESC) here, the few designers attending the ''green design'' panel benefited from hearing three semiconductor vendors on the following subject: ''How embedded design and software is the key technology that is saving the planet.''
Representatives from Intel, Marvell and Micron detailed their energy-saving technologies for ''green design'' practices. But surprisingly, ''green design'' is still not a top priority among the design considerations for OEMs and customers, said Joe Jensen, general manager of the ECG/Embedded Computing division at Intel Corp. (Santa Clara, Calif.).
In fact, it's the chip makers like Intel pushing ''green design'' -- and not customers, he said during the panel.
''Suppliers react to customer demands, and right now, customers want products with more performance for the same price or a lesser one,'' he said. "No one is against saving the planet, but that big picture goal never enters our minds."
Jensen said that the current mindset is offering products with "high performance within a rational power envelope.'' But Intel is moving to bring a change in mindset, especially at the retail level.
"We are working on the retail level to entice owners of thousands of point-of-sale terminals to invest in higher-efficiency solutions in order to save on their energy costs in the long run," said Jensen.
Dean Klein, vice president of memory system development at Micron Technology Inc. (Boise, Ida.), said that power consumption on both the enterprise and retail levels need to be reduced.
"Datacenters with their servers are very inefficient in their use of power. They need to rethink how best to apply power-management skills at the system level," said Klein at the panel.
There are several solutions to the problem. Micron, for example, has rolled out low-power DRAMs for the datacenter. "From a memory perspective, one needs to consider solid-state disk replacements for hard drives," said Klein. "A solid-state drive can replace 10 to 12 hard drives today and bring significant savings to the datacenter storage needs."
Another solution is to replace inefficient power supplies or so-called ''vampires,'' which waste standby power, said Hubie Notohamiprodjo, director of power management and industrial control at Marvell (Santa Clara, Calif.).
He said that consumers can do much to eliminate power "vampires" in their environments. In another words, a new mindset is required.
"How many appliances are charged up and the charger is then left in the power socket, sucking power for no reason?" he asked. "As technology leaders we need to provide efficient power adaptors."
As far as saving the planet by having government regulate energy efficiency, all three panelists agreed that it was better left for government to provide incentives for investing in power-saving technologies.
"Silicon Valley is ripe with VCs looking to invest in clean energy technologies and I'm sure we will find the right answers, especially when the real incentive is to beat the current high price of oil and gasoline with eloquent alternative energy sources," said Intel's Jensen.