The California Energy Commission held a webinar on August 15 about Emerging Technologies: Mobile Efficiency for Plug Load Devices. In this webinar, Vojin Zivojnovic and Davorin Mista from Aggios presented research on using mobile design practices in combination with hardware and energy management software to decrease energy consumption of plug load devices such as set top boxes, televisions, computers, and game consoles. Motivated by why and how mobile devices use less energy, the Aggios team found that the attention to energy savings was integrated directly into the design flow of battery-operated products. According to the Department of Energy Quadrennial Technology Review (2015), after 2020, remaining energy savings opportunities largely relate to miscellaneous electronic loads (MELs). As such, applying an energy-oriented design flow to such plug loads can yield tremendous savings.
Taking a cue from mobile product design, the project focused on design principles that would empower engineers to produce more energy savings with less cost. The project aimed to find ways to reduce technical barriers and help decisions toward more efficient designs by delivering methodology guidelines for both software and hardware. Also noted was the importance of the capability to monitor power independently, for example, by having a power meter on every engineer’s desk. Hardware and software descriptions enabling energy-oriented designs were implemented through virtual prototypes used to model energy behavior. By using an energy-oriented design approach, simulating energy behavior, and measuring performance, engineers could estimate the yearly energy savings potential for different applications based on ENERGY STAR usage profiles. For example, one piece of learning for personal computers was that the most substantial savings potential was in short idle mode. Similarly, for gaming consoles, the most significant efficiency gains came from standby power.
Although device specifications do include low-power states, they are often not leveraged fully. Through the simulation and implementation of reference designs for product applications such as smart televisions, computers, set top boxes, and game consoles, real savings opportunities can be identified.
Next steps in the project include the description of complete systems such as buildings, going up a level on how to exchange power-related information across the design flow beyond the chip, board, and product. Finally, the Aggios team is promoting IEEE P2415 energy modeling for every device sold in California. IEEE P2415 is a non-regulatory technical standard for “Unified Hardware Abstraction and Layer for Energy Proportional Electronic Systems,” which identifies the energy characteristics and features of a device.
Webinar slides and a recording of the presentation can be found at the following page: