Keeping pace with increased power and performance

The first computer I used was an Apple II. I remember that computer sitting on it's own desk in the school library, stuttering while the disk looked up the next chuck of green text to display on the screen while playing a game. Today I play games on a computer that does not stutter while displaying near photorealistic images instead of green text. I carry it in my pocket. I find the advancements themselves amazing, but the pace at which they have been made is simply mind-blowing. To keep that torrid pace of increased performance, designers are facing an equally quick pace of increased power demands. I think dealing with the power demand increase will be a critical factor in separating the market winners from losers. How will they do it?

I believe one of the approaches will involve taking advantage of the various power supply chips's capabilities to scale output power quickly. This means having a better understanding, in real time, of the current use case's power needs and the ability to transition to another power mode quickly when the use case changes. Over the years I have spoken to a number of portable product makers that do not take advantage of the voltage scaling capability offered by our Power Management ICs; I've also spoken to number that have not been able to take advantage of it due to lack of available software. We are offering more products with this capability and the appropriate software to ease the burden of implementation. We have also made investments in architectural techniques that allow rapid mode changes and increased efficiency across the full load range.

Figure 1: Voltage Scaling for Fun and Profit

Only by taking advantage of power scaling offered by the processor and power vendors will system designers be capable of offering us products that keep the performance curve moving in the direction we've seen. I cannot wait to see what they come up with.

What else do we need to keep in mind in order to keep pace with increased power and performance?