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Jumping through hoops

Systems engineers are jumping through ever smaller hoops to meet demands for high speed and high density data in tighter timescales. By Vanessa Knivett.

As the insatiable demand for high speed and high density data continues, power is one of the first areas to come under pressure in any design – especially if the application is mobile. Meanwhile for larger systems, efficient use of power – prompted by a combination of environmental concern, legislation and cost – is continuing to drive developments. For both scenarios, better power management techniques are providing an answer.
Whilst power management techniques have tended to reside at the embedded level –battery charger circuitry and fuel gauging, for example – there is evidence that at the systems level, power supplies are becoming ‘smarter’. Initiatives like the Point of Load Alliance (POLA) have played a pivotal role in driving forward PMBus, a digital communications protocol for power converters that will not just be used as a means for point of load converters to communicate, but also dc/dc converters and – in the future – ac/dc supplies. PMBus, launched in March 2005, will enable designers to make more sophisticated power management decisions using capabilities like voltage sequencing.

Vanessa Knivett

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