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How Do Isolated Devices and Life-Saving Micro-Power Devices Run on Minimal Energy?
Rena Ayeras

Sensors, processors, controllers - all electronic devices require power. Sometimes the energy source is continuous, such as direct AC power or AC converted to DC, easily replaceable batteries, or only need to function during the day, which makes solar power a viable solution. However, some devices don’t have access to constant external power, are not easily accessible, yet continuously run long-term. There are very remote sensors and implanted medical devices that must provide continuous support without frequent recharge or battery replacement.  In such cases, it’s not practical to depend on “ordinary” power sources; the solution is dependent on less power.

What are the options? One option is speed – less speed requires less power. The required processing speed for medical devices is much slower than the Smartphone you use. Many of these devices run in the kHz frequency range, not the GHz range of the computing devices you use for programming complex games, streaming videos, or getting GPS driving directions.

Another option is managing jobs run by the CPU. Two such methods are spinlock and mutex.

Spinlock is best used with multi-core processors that run very short-term jobs. Jobs repeatedly try to access the core until the job using that core has completed its task. The operating system can forcibly switch the core to another job when the runtime of a thread has exceeded a defined limit.

Mutex, mutual exclusive, is used to prevent race conditions, multiple signals trying to affect the same output. Threads that have to wait are put to sleep until the CPU Core is unlocked. Various lock strategies can be applied to prevent a thread from “taking over” the core or CPU. This is most effective when locks are short-term; it prevents the tasks of repeatedly rescheduled jobs.

How can you monitor, simulate, program and interact with embedded devices? You can contact us and request a demo that applies to your application, as well as ask questions about Protocol Analyzers, Host Adapters and other Total Phase products.

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