Free Trials

Download a free trial to find out which Altium software best suits your needs

How to Buy

Contact your local sales office to get started on improving your design environment

Downloads

Download the latest in PCB design and EDA software

  • PCB DESIGN SOFTWARE
  • Altium Designer

    Complete Environment for Schematic + Layout

  • CircuitStudio

    Entry Level, Professional PCB Design Tool

  • CircuitMaker

    Community Based PCB Design Tool

  • NEXUS

    Agile PCB Design For Teams

  • CLOUD PLATFORM
  • Altium 365

    Connecting PCB Design to the Manufacturing Floor

  • COMPONENT MANAGEMENT
  • Altium Concord Pro

    Complete Solution for Library Management

  • Octopart

    Extensive, Easy-to-Use Component Database

  • PRODUCT EXTENSIONS
  • PDN Analyzer

    Natural and Effortless Power Distribution Network Analysis

  • See All Extensions
  • EMBEDDED
  • TASKING

    World-Renowned Technology for Embedded Systems Development

  • TRAININGS
  • Live Courses

    Learn best practices with instructional training available worldwide

  • On-Demand Courses

    Gain comprehensive knowledge without leaving your home or office

  • ONLINE VIEWER
  • Altium 365 Viewer

    View & Share electronic designs in your browser

  • Altium Designer 20

    The most powerful, modern and easy-to-use PCB design tool for professional use

    ALTIUMLIVE

    Annual PCB Design Summit

    • Forum

      Where Altium users and enthusiasts can interact with each other

    • Blog

      Our blog about things that interest us and hopefully you too

    • Ideas

      Submit ideas and vote for new features you want in Altium tools

    • Bug Crunch

      Help make the software better by submitting bugs and voting on what's important

    • Wall

      A stream of events on AltiumLive you follow by participating in or subscribing to

    • Beta Program

      Information about participating in our Beta program and getting early access to Altium tools

    All Resources

    Explore the latest content from blog posts to social media and technical white papers gathered together for your convenience

    Downloads

    Take a look at what download options are available to best suit your needs

    How to Buy

    Contact your local sales office to get started improving your design environment

    • Documentation

      The documentation area is where you can find extensive, versioned information about our software online, for free.

    • Training & Events

      View the schedule and register for training events all around the world and online

    • Design Content

      Browse our vast library of free design content including components, templates and reference designs

    • Webinars

      Attend a live webinar online or get instant access to our on demand series of webinars

    • Support

      Get your questions answered with our variety of direct support and self-service options

    • Technical Papers

      Stay up to date with the latest technology and industry trends with our complete collection of technical white papers.

    • Video Library

      Quick and to-the-point video tutorials to get you started with Altium Designer

    Tips for Minimizing Power Consumption in Your Embedded System

    Altium Designer
    |  April 24, 2018

    Two lights, one off with switch and one on shining

    For years, I always forgot to turn off the lights and fans at my house. Despite initially denying that constantly using these appliances significantly increased my electricity usage, I eventually broke my bad habit and began turning off every little switch. After all, being more prudent about my electricity usage reduces my monthly bills and promotes a greener earth.

    Unfortunately, minimizing system power consumption in an embedded system requires much more work than flipping off some switches. The right design strategy needs to be implemented long before you even start drawing the circuit. And whether your device is solar-based or battery-powered, every detail matters when it comes to minimizing the system power consumption of your embedded system.

    Plan the Device’s Power Budget

    As a hardware , it’s natural to feel excited about a new project. But instead of rushing off to get the most powerful microcontroller available, you should understand the nature of the application and uncover any constraints on the power consumption. Even if you’re not designing a solar-powered battery device, an energy-saving design, in general, may be preferable if you want to keep up with competitors.

    To optimize your device’s power budget, start by placing a reasonable limit on your design’s power consumption and works backward from there. Choose microcontrollers and other components that have energy saving features or simply consume less power. If you choose the wrong components, it could make it tougher to implement power-saving measures at the design stage.

    Minimize Power Consumption in Your Design

    It takes both hardware and firmware engineers to implement efficient power-saving features in an embedded system design. Here are some tips to collaboratively minimize the total power consumption of your design:

    1. Use Deep Sleep Mode

    In some outdoor, solar-based applications, using a powerful microcontroller to fulfill given specifications can be inevitable. For instance, an outdoor vehicle ticketing machine needs to issue a printed ticket or scan a payment card within a short period of time, before storing the records in its non-volatile memory.

    Based on these functions, a high-end 32-bit microcontroller becomes the best option. However, such a powerful microcontroller also consumes higher current when all the peripherals are turned on. This results in the need for a higher capacity battery if the microcontroller is continuously running at full power.

    A practice to prevent the microcontroller from drawing maximum power is to put it into deep sleep mode when it’s idle. In deep sleep mode, microcontrollers often consume a tiny fraction of the maximum current, often in nano-amps. Firmware engineers can then use interrupts to wake up the microcontroller as needed.

    Man sleeping on a pillow

    Use deep sleep mode for your microcontroller.

    2. Use Switching Regulator

    Sometimes, unnecessary power wastage occurs in the form of heat. This is true when you’re using a linear regulator in your design. For a solar powered device, typical power supply circuits require the battery voltage to be dialed down. Naturally, a linear voltage regulator is the cheapest solution for this.

    Linear regulators are, however, not known to be efficient, as they dissipate the difference between the voltages as heat. When you’re running the device on a battery, the heat dissipation results in extra current being drawn from the battery. If this is the case, you can opt to use a switching regulator instead.

    While switching regulators and associated components increase the overall unit cost, this is a more effective tactic than using linear regulators. Less heat dissipation means a longer lasting battery, which is useful in cases when the device has to operate without sunlight. In power sensitive applications, every milliwatt saved can make a huge difference.

    3. Power Off Unused Components

    Putting the microcontroller into deep-sleep mode is a brilliant technique for reducing total power consumption. But other components like logic integrated circuits (IC) or communication IC can still drain significant current even when your microcontroller is in deep sleep mode.

    This issue can, thankfully, be minimized. Instead of having a single voltage regulator on the PCB, you can use two regulators to separately power the microcontroller and the other components. This method allows the microcontroller to turn off the power of other components before entering deep sleep mode.

    on-off switch flicked off

    Cut off power to unused components.

    Furthermore, this ensures power consumption in the idle state only comes from the microcontroller and the input necessary to interrupt the microcontroller from deep sleep mode. By using Altium Designer®’s PDN Analyzer™ , you can ensure that the power tracks are sufficient and not prone to causing additional power loss. Strong PCB design software can encourage every step of your design.

    Need more tricks to reduce your device’s power consumption? Consult an expert at Altium.

    About Author

    About Author

    PCB Design Tools for Electronics Design and DFM. Information for EDA Leaders.

    most recent articles

    Back to Home