"Over the past 2½
years since the PFI was launched, membership has grown from 10 to 36
companies," explained Pankaj Mayor, Business Development Group Director
at Cadence. "The PFI’s focus has shifted from developing CPF to the
practical use of low-power design solutions and ecosystem building.
This resonated well with attendees—85 percent of whom are already
engaged in low-power design or will be within the next 6 months."
opened the day-long conference and announced that LSI Corporation,
Chartered Semiconductor, and SIS Taiwan have joined the Power Forward
Initiative. He attributed the boom in low-power design adoption to the
massive growth in global energy consumption due to electronics,
especially Internet applications such as online gaming and search
NVIDIA saves power
The morning keynote by
Chris Malachowsky, an NVIDIA founder, set the stage for further
discussions on low power. "When you begin your design you have to ask
yourself what is the lowest power you can operate at for the job you're
trying to do? You have to take a holistic view of your design."
Malachowsky said NVIDIA has three ways of looking at low-power designs:
One is when building something for the absolute lowest power in
portable devices, two is performance that is dictated in a PC chassis,
and three is designing at the highest end to get the highest
performance in a power budget.
Many power saving methods have
also been applied to their flagship video processors, Malachowsky said.
"We have aggressive clock gating, aggressive enabling and disabling,
like active termination, clock frequency, power VDV levels, etc. We
have seen a 2-3x improvements in our performance per watt."
member companies AMD, ARM/UMC, Faraday, and Freescale highlighted
examples of successful low-power design projects ranging from
power-efficient GPU design to ARM CPU methodologies to automotive
low-power design considerations. David Lan of TSMC, a founding member
of PFI, highlighted how industry collaboration to integrate process
technology advancements with new design techniques is critical to
producing energy-efficient chips and delivering real value to mutual
The collaboration message was echoed by other PFI
members, who highlighted the broad support by IP companies in the
ecosystem for CPF-based low-power design methodologies. Presentations
by ARM, ARC, Chartered Semiconductor, Virage Logic, and Sonics reviewed
products and methodologies available today that build power-efficient
The hot topic for many at the summit was architectural
low-power tradeoff techniques. A standing-room-only crowd enjoyed
presentations from Cadence featuring low-power chip planning and how
quickly C-to-Silicon Compiler helped Broadcom analyze various
architectures to optimize tradeoffs among power and performance
criteria. Calypto presented novel techniques for architectural
optimization, and Sequence discussed RTL power prototyping.
Coordinator Susan Runowicz-Smith moderated a panel discussing the
challenges to mainstream low-power design adoption. Seasoned low-power
experts from NXP, Freescale, LSI, and Virage Logic populated the panel.
The most telling of all attendee comments after the presentation was:
"Low-power design complicates design flows, but the payoff is big.”
up the day, Carl Guardino, CEO of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group,
stressed that "going green" is not just going to save the planet, but
is in the best interest of companies in Silicon Valley, which can
become the epicenter for burgeoning green industries. He noted that
data centers, power-use hubs for the Internet, will
continue to consume more power unless the semiconductor industry comes
together to find solutions. "By 2011, at current growth rates, they
will consume enough power to require ten new power plants in the U.S.
A panel led by Ron Wilson, EDN Executive Editor,
expanded on the practical side of the low-power design equation to
include techniques people are using to save power at home.
meeting exceeded expectations–in terms of presentations and
attendance," concluded Pankaj Mayor. "Energy efficiency is an important
global initiative and Cadence is playing a leading role in enabling
10-13-2008 1:02 AM