White Paper: Electronics & Computers

Testing and Optimizing Low-Power Designs

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Power consumption is a key performance parameter for almost every electronic device. Conserving energy is good for the environment and has a large impact on operational costs, customer experience, and a solution's lifetime. Low power consumption is relevant for all electronic devices whether powered by the grid, a large battery pack, a coin size battery, or energy harvesting.

As the Internet of Things (IoT) grows more popular, low power design becomes more important. Battery-powered devices rely on low-power wireless technologies such as Bluetooth® Low Energy, NB-IoT, LoRaWAN, or Sigfox. Batteries in IoT devices often have to last 10 years or more such as those in smart water meters. Delivering this kind of low power consumption involves more than just low-power technologies and components.

Low power design generally starts with a low-power system concept, which means selecting the best-suited low-power communications technologies and components and utilizing their power-saving features. Most processing platforms and communications chips have different power modes: active, standby, sleep, and deep sleep. Communications technologies provide specific energy-saving features based on the required communications behavior.

This white paper focuses on the design challenge of bringing all these features and components together for the most effective use of hardware. The hardware and software design clearly plays a role, but the RF components and antenna design can also have a major impact on the power consumption.

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