Before I get into the guts of this post, a special thank-you to the team at Texas Instruments (Bill Krenik, CTO of the wireless business unit, and Dave Freeman, Texas Instruments Fellow, Analog & Digital Power Control Products) who were patient enough to brief me weeks and weeks and weeks ago about the various ways that the company is addressing the call for reduced energy consumption across a spectrum of technology products.
The Texas Instruments team reached out to me after seeing that one of my favorite focuses for this blog has been power management software applications. In fact, Texas Instruments wants to make power management much more intuitive, by focusing on fixing the problem at the semiconductor level. Its technology could find application in hybrid cars, home appliances, high-definition televisions and set-top boxes, mobile phones and other miniature computing devices, and all sorts of different electronic sensors deployed in field situations with minimal power resources.
Texas Instruments boasts several core value propositions when it comes to green power, many of which fall under its Smart Reflex family of power and performance management products, according to Krenik and Freeman. Among other things, Smart Reflex controls voltage, frequency and power usage depending on the activity that's going on as well as ambient conditions such as temperature. It does things like coordinate power usage in systems with multiple processing cores and cut down on chip-level power leakage. Krenik and Freeman say the Smart Reflex technology could play a role in subnotebooks and PDAs. It has shipped in millions of other devices, particularly cell phones. On the power supply side, Texas Instruments also has developed green-mode converters, which keep tabs on whether or not something is plugged into a wall outlet and adjust the power supply to the processor according to what's necessary. It's doing plenty to make sure that its processors are among the green-conscious out there, which seems a logical point of differentiation considering the pressure on most consumer electronics companies to address the power consumption appetite of their products.
Here's a silly yet nifty video that demonstrates just how little power that a Texas Instruments semiconductor might need. (Vintners beware! This may occasion a run on grapes.) Here's the more serious resource site about the Texas Instruments processor series discussed in the video.
To the Texas Instruments team: I'm sorry again that it took me so long to piece together this information. What compelled me to finally dig it out of my notes pile was one really simple motivation. I believe like you do that power management and consumption concerns extend deep into the technology food chain. Sure, I can go out and buy utility software to do it. But like with all things technology-driven, this is something that needs to happen behind the scenes, too. If we count on people to remember to do all these things, we're sunk.