Power Electronics

National Semiconductor, ARM Licensing Deal

Further extending their relationship in power management for system-on-chip (SoC) devices used in mobile phones and other portable electronics applications, National Semiconductor and ARM have announced a licensing deal. Under this pact, National Semiconductor’s Advanced Power Controller (APC) based on its PowerWise™ technology is available for licensing from ARM.

National’s APC is a synthesizable AMBA™ methodology-compliant macrocell which includes a hardware performance monitor (HPM). The APC product automatically calibrates for process and temperature variations to reduce the system power supply to the absolute minimum necessary to meet the required level of performance at all operating frequencies. When used in conjunction with ARM's Intelligent Energy Manager (IEM) technology, it can reduce processor core power consumption by up to 75%, according to National Semiconductor.

IEM technology implements advanced algorithms to optimally balance processor workload and energy consumption while maximizing system responsiveness. The IEM software component works with the mobile device’s operating system and applications to dynamically predict the lowest CPU performance level while still maintaining full user quality. The ARM's intelligent energy controller macrocell then determines the best operating frequency to support CPU performance level for a specific SoC implementation.

National’s PowerWise technology and the ARM IEM technology can reduce power consumption of SoC by dynamically matching minimal voltage and frequency to the chip's workload,” said Max Baron, principal analyst at Instat-MDR. “These technologies from National and ARM are independent of semiconductor process and temperature making them important to designers focused on extending the battery life of multi-featured cell phones and other handheld devices.”

The IEC works cooperatively with the on-chip clock management unit to control clock frequency changes and the APC macrocell to adaptively set the minimum required power supply voltage delivered by the external compliant power management chip. The APC product communicates with external PowerWise compliant power management chips using the PowerWise interface (PWI), an open-standard interface dedicated to power management.

The APC product is embedded in SoC devices used in portable applications such as digital baseband and application processors. The APC product is provided as soft IP (10,000 gates) with RTL, synthesis scripts, test benches, implementation and programming documentation. The APC product is also configurable to support up to eight performance levels and includes a PWI compliant master. The APC product supports deployment of both table-based dynamic voltage scaling and PowerWise adaptive voltage scaling. Using the APC product in a system enables significant power savings that result in extended battery life.

For more information, visit powerwise.national.com or www.arm.com.

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