- on Education & Information
- Published in issue 7/2001 on page 0
Towards low Power Everyday Electronic Systems
Low Power Microelectronics, why and how?
Although great improvements have been achieved over the years in reducing electrical equipment power consumption, there are indications that we can go a lot further in reducing power levels before we reach any physical limits. Apart from a short history of power reduction, this article describes several interesting and successful projects from the European Initiative in which significantly improved systems with much reduced power levels have been demonstrated.What is Power and why is it important in everyday life? Power is defined in a dictionary as the ‘ability to do an operation’. In engineering it is the agent that enables processes and systems to do useful work. Power is the rate of doing work.In an electronic or microelectronic context electrical power enables those systems to do work; it is measured in a unit called a watt (after the Scottish engineer James Watt (1736-1819)) which is the amount of energy consumed in one second. One watt is a small unit so we often use the unit kilowatt (a thousand watts) — a typical electric fire uses one kilowatt of power for example. We are charged for the electricity we use at home/factory/office by the number of kilowatts we use multiplied by the time in hours, so we are charged for kilowatt-hours. This is energy since it is a product of power and time!