Earlier this year, Vodafone chief executive officer Arun Sarin said that product quality deficiencies would slow the rollout of third-generation (3G) mobile phones.
"They are bulky, they get hot, and they don't have enough battery life," he was quoted as saying at the time-words that sent a shiver down the spine of every handset and chip set vendor in the marketplace.
In reality, the issues of heat and battery life on which Sarin touched are not new for 3G mobile telephones. The initial 3G phones consumed so much power that they barely operated throughout the day.
Now, with data and video services already being touted, 3G must inte-grate higher-performance digital signal processors; application processors for handling multimedia processing; higher-resolution camera systems; and even other radios, such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS.
So, component and chip set manufacturers are seeking to reduce power in all areas of a system design: from RF to displays to memory to baseband processors. For example, in this section, Maxim examines how reducing voltages in the RF subsystem can lead to big power savings.
In contrast, Samsung Semiconductor and Denali Software Inc., in separate articles, examine how designers will be required to meet the demanding power requirements of the video and image processing capabilities of next-generation mobile devices.
Of course, the display system remains a focus area for designers who are seeking to reduce power, so analog veterans Semtech and Linear Technology both look at the impact of light-emitting diodes on power consumption and demonstrate how new driver techniques are needed in order to keep power consumption low.
In addition, designers are prepping new means for reducing power at the IP level through power management IP blocks in system-on-chip designs.
However, integrating power management IP during chip design isn't easy, as Virtual Silicon and LTRIM point out in their articles.