Energy conservation has become a major focus for electronic products no matter where they are to be sold around the world. Legislation and customer pressure are both working to ensure greener operation.
In the European Union, for example, under the EcoDesign Directive, manufacturers of energy-related products need to be able to demonstrate they have taken environmental factors into account. The European Commission has introduced a number of ‘implementing measures’ that specify the kinds of actions that manufacturers of electrical and electronic equipment need to put in place to improve their environmental performance.
The first implementing measure to be put in place focused on standby power consumption. The first move was to cut power consumption when devices are switched off to 1 W or less and to 2 W for systems running in standby mode. From the start of next year, these limits are halved to 0.5 W and 1 W, respectively. Other legislation focuses on power-factor correction (PFC) to ensure that electronic devices and lighting systems do not adversely affect the electricity supply.
Power Integrations has developed a range of components to target the increasingly stringent requirements for standby power and PFC. The company’s SENZero and LinkZero devices provide the building blocks needed to cut standby and off-mode power dramatically. For better PFC performance, Power Integrations has developed the Qspeed advanced diodes. These diodes combine an extremely low reverse recovery charge (QRR) with a very soft recovery waveform. By replacing existing ultra-fast diodes with the Qspeed devices, manufacturers can improve the efficiency of PFC circuits and switching power supplies by a significant factor and run cooler by more than 50 percent.
Typical application using SENZero
Typical application using LinkZero-LP
At a higher level of integration, the Power Integrations’ Hyper series of components for mid and high-power industrial PSUs offer simpler circuits and higher efficiencies complete with support for PFC. The commission has followed up with implementing measures that focus on the energy usage of products that range from televisions and set-top boxes to lighting and electric motors.
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.