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Making Embedded Systems More Efficient

Category: Science & Technology
Posted: 06:04AM

More and more of the devices around us contain specialized embedded systems, including our cars and thermostats. Like many other technologies, they are a target for improving energy efficiency, especially those systems that may be difficult to provide power to. Researchers at North Carolina State University have recently found a way to improve the efficiency of embedded systems, while also reducing their cost.

To achieve the best efficiency for an embedded system, it is important to optimize the voltage it is receiving. Batteries tend to put out a higher voltage than this though, so a power converter is needed. The most efficient power converters are switch-mode converters and are made of two parts. One part is the power stage that controls the storage and flow of power while the other part is the controller. What the North Carolina researchers have done is pull the software for the controller into the embedded system's processor. This makes it possible for developers to precisely control how the controller reacts when different system functions are activated, as it is all going through the same chip.

The researchers built a pair of prototype converters and one had 90% efficiency and the other had 95% efficiency, and both only cost around 50 cents. This combination beats out all other converters as they are either more expensive, less efficient, or both.

Source: North Carolina State University

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