A Groundbreaking New Approach to Reducing Power Consumption
By Masoud Zargari, Co-founder and COO at Atmosic Technologies
One of the biggest pain points that we hear from our prospective customers is how the growing demand for edge IoT connectivity devices to process and communicate more information has resulted in higher power consumption and less battery life for these solutions. This is one of the reasons we’ve seen a huge demand for our Bluetooth wireless connectivity products in all sorts of applications, from consumer electronics to healthcare and from manufacturing to retail. Atmosic’s innovative technologies dramatically reduce power consumption so that batteries in connected devices may never need to be replaced – and what’s even better is that with our solutions, some connected devices can operate completely without batteries. Our last post explored Atmosic’s novel SensorHub system, a hardware block within the Atmosic SoC that allows data to be collected and used while the vast majority of the system-on-chip (SoC) is powered down. This post will dive into some of the other techniques that help Atmosic solutions deliver ultra-low power consumption.
Digital circuits have traditionally benefited from a technique often referred to as ‘Dynamic Voltage Scaling’. The way it works is that the supply voltage of a digital block, such as a processor, is reduced whenever high speed and/or high performance is not required. While this technique can dramatically improve the overall power consumption of a purely digital SoC, it provides limited advantage in an SoC focused on connectivity, where up to two-thirds of the power is consumed by analog, mixed-signal and RF building blocks. Atmosic came up with a fundamentally different design approach that allows us to utilize dynamic scaling of a variety of circuit and design parameters, and not just voltage, across both the digital and analog mixed-signal and RF blocks. This approach has allowed us to achieve up to an order of magnitude lower active power consumption in our Bluetooth low-energy connectivity solutions compared to solutions by other semiconductor companies.
Our team has also developed techniques to eliminate large current spikes drawn from batteries. Atmosic’s solutions ensure that the current drawn from batteries remains low at all times, whether the chip is in active mode, sleep mode, and anything in between. This enables our solutions to not only support traditional types of batteries such as coin cells, but also support cutting-edge battery technologies including paper batteries that have a much smaller capacity. This is key as we anticipate that the market for paper batteries will explode in the coming years. Just imagine a doctor giving a patient a thin paper patch to monitor their heart rate, or a track coach giving a runner a smart fitness patch to monitor their vitals during practices. The technology that’s available now in wearables like wristbands will continue to shrink down and become paper-thin, and Atmosic is excited to be driving these new possibilities forward with our groundbreaking ultra-low power connectivity products.
Reducing power to such low levels is what allows Atmosic’s portfolio, including the ATM3 and ATM33 series, to operate on harvested energy from RF sources in the environment in addition to photovoltaic, thermal, or mechanical/kinetic sources. By enabling a device to harvest energy from its environment, we are able to extend their battery life to the point that batteries may never need to be replaced in the device’s lifetime, or we can eliminate the need for batteries all together. This removes the huge inconvenience and costs in maintaining devices and changing batteries. You can imagine the overhead in time and cost in factories that have to continually change batteries in sensors throughout their facilities.
While some companies have reduced power consumption by implementing solutions that aren’t fully Bluetooth compliant, we believe that it’s absolutely essential for devices to be compliant to the standard so they can communicate with the millions of other IoT devices out in the field. Instead of taking shortcuts that can lead to incompatibilities, we’ve made sure that our solutions fully comply with the Bluetooth standard.
At Atmosic, we have built our innovative wireless technology from the ground up, and our strong and growing patent portfolio is a testament to our relentless focus on innovation. Atmosic’s standards-compliant ultra low-power connectivity solutions are enabling maintenance free and battery-less products across a wide variety of verticals, and we are proud to be driving the IoT industry towards a battery-free future.