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Marketing Malarkey and Some Truths About Ultra-Low Power Design

Jack Ganssle

Marketing Malarkey and Some Truths About Ultra-Low Power Design
Jack Ganssle

Many systems need to run for years from small batteries. Vendors offer many solutions and even more promises. Alas, too often these are, at the best, wildly optimistic.  Pick an MCU which only needs one electron a year to remain in a sleep mode and your system will still likely drain the battery in months.

This talk will present the results of 18 months of experiments on battery life, MCU sleep currents, and “sneak” circuits that drain charge from batteries. It is complemented by engineering analysis of real-world systems and what their actual power requirements are. Does PCB contamination effect battery life? Can a big capacitor give a millisecond power boost? What is the effect of temperature on these decisions?

The answers are surprising, and the bottom line is that none of us will achieve the battery lives touted in the trade press.

To achieve years of operation from a coin cell an MCU-based system must use the right components, careful analysis of energy needs and availability, and the proper algorithms in the firmware.

In this talk you’ll learn how to make these tradeoffs. And you may never trust a vendor promise again!

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