In Damian Anzaldo's recent Integration Nation post, Analog Integration Is Saving Planet Earth, he makes a case that analog integration can substantially reduce the raw materials consumed in electronic products. One of the discussion threads in the comments raised the question as to whether analog integration can save power, too.
The answer is yes! Below are four examples of integrated analog ICs that are significantly cutting power consumption in different applications. We are talking about saving tens of thousands of megawatt-hours here!
- Using the MAX5882 wideband RF-DAC, cable OEMs are now able to design wideband Universal Edge QAMs that consume extremely low power. Unlike previous generations of narrowband Edge QAMs with power usages between 2.5 and 5 W/QAM, the newer designs operate with 0.5 W/QAM at capacity. At one of Maxim Integrated's customers, this 80 to 90 percent reduction in power accumulates to savings of 9 million kWh per year over its installed base of QAM channels. The unique design of wideband Universal Edge QAMs enabled by Maxim RF-DACs further lowers the total cost of ownership by reducing hub powering and cooling and wiring complexity.
- Semiconductor companies like Maxim use automated test equipment (ATE) to test their parts. Maxim's MAX9979 and similar pin electronics ICs for ATE cut power in half compared to the previous generation, from 2 W/pin down to 1 W. With at least 10 million Maxim ATE pins in use 24 hours a day, every day, worldwide, this power reduction equates to an annual savings of 26,000 MWh versus our competitors. This reduces carbon emissions by 14,000 metric tons per year!
- Smart grids hold potential to maximize electricity generation efficiency by utilizing data on average and peak power usage. Devices like Zeus, Maxim's smart-grid SoC, enable electricity meters that accurately measure usage and can securely communicate that data to utilities or power plants. By enabling this exchange of information, utilities can use renewable energy sources, like wind and solar.
- Solar cell chargers, like the MAX17710, work with solar cells or Near Field Communication (NFC) to harvest energy. Using miniscule amounts of energy (as low as 1 microwatt) the device can harvest energy from clean, renewable sources like the sun, with maximum efficiency. The MAX17710 is a complete system for charging and protecting micropower-storage cells such as Infinite Power Solution's Thinergy microenergy cells.
Thanks to Enza Pollifrone, Corporate Responsibility Specialist at Maxim Integrated, who prepared this list in honor of Earth Day. Certainly Maxim isn't alone in using analog integration to drive reductions in electricity demand.
What are the best examples you have seen of power reduction in an application or product?