Three Pillars of Embedded System Power Management

Power consumption is a key consideration when developing nearly all cutting-edge electronics. Whether to prolong the battery life of critical devices for military personnel, maintain low industrial energy costs, or reduce consumption for environmental conservation, achieving a power-efficient device is often of critical importance. While power constraints will always exist for electronics, consumption can be monitored, controlled, and optimized to deliver exceptional efficiency. This is especially true for embedded system development.

1. Monitoring

The first step to achieving unrivaled energy efficiency in embedded systems is complete visibility. Monitoring power consumption and performance of power sensitive applications provides the information to support data-driven optimization decisions.

Typically, power consumption is monitored manually by a trained hardware engineer using costly equipment. Now power monitoring software platforms offer developers the opportunity to save time and costs while achieving the same power monitoring capabilities. These platforms offer varying features and levels of visibility. The bottom line is – the more data that can be collected the better.  An effective power monitoring platform will provide comprehensive real-time data associated with power performance and system activities. This visibility enables testing that provides the basis for engineers to control the power consumption of their embedded system.

2. Control

Having established visibility, engineers can begin to manipulate their system’s power requirements through monitoring and tweaking the operating system and underlying board. Supported by detailed power consumption data, development teams can quickly isolate and address areas where maximum power consumption occurs. Time-stamped power logs can further help to identify and prevent power loss events. Developers can even test specific embedded components and peripherals to identify the culprits of power waste.

3. Optimization

Taken together, visibility and control provide the tools for qualified development teams to effectively optimize. Using iterative testing and modifications, developers can inch closer to an optimized system with incremental efficiency improvements. But this ‘rinse and repeat’ approach is time intensive and can leave developers questioning when a system is efficient enough. End-product specifications may provide guidelines for minimum requirements, but how will developers know when their embedded system has reached full potential?

Some embedded technology partners offer comprehensive support and benchmark data on expected system performance to accelerate your product development. Supported by knowledgeable embedded technology experts, developers are positioned to realize highly efficient solutions in a compressed time frame.

One Platform

One such platform is Beacon EmbeddedWorks’ very own Wattson™ power monitoring. Wattson™ is our custom solution to aid in minimizing power consumption – you won’t find this anywhere else!

Most embedded systems experts may upsell costly custom developed solutions or refer you to third party developers, but Beacon EmbeddedWorks includes Wattson™ power monitoring for every baseboard user. Your Beacon EmbeddedWorks SOMs are not only designed for efficiency, they come supported by the tools to minimize power consumption while maximizing performance.

Wattson™ logs measurements in real-time and provides benchmark data on optimized systems to support flawless implementation into your end device. It provides measurements including minimum, average, and maximum readings for both current and power. Measurement can be paused or reset during run-time and the log provides both date/time stamps and debug log files to isolate power consumption occurring during boot, run, or suspend events respectively.  From the moment your system powers on to the moment it shuts off Wattson™ logs and provides detailed reports on all power consumption.

Monitor all this from the visual display included with Wattson™. The display helps to illustrate total system power usage across several domains, allowing customers to isolate the power usage between the SOM and on baseboard domains. In conjunction with our baseboards, Wattson™ allows software engineers to monitor power usage of their operating system during development – even before their initial baseboard board design is complete. The development kit baseboard’s power measurement design can then be used as a reference to add power measuring capabilities to your end product.

What’s more, Wattson™ can be easily installed and run on Windows or Linux! The host pc can be easily connected to the baseboard’s dedicated power measurement USB port with the provided cable kit and you are ready to start collecting power measurement data.

Overcoming power consumption constraints is a common and critical issue faced by electronics engineers across industries. An effort that once required comprehensive platform development and optimization efforts from scratch can now be streamlined using Beacon EmbeddedWorks’ Wattson™ – a veritable ‘plug-and-play’ solution for power monitoring in the most demanding applications.