September 11, 2018
|By: Christine Young
Blogger, Maxim Integrated
McCartney and Lennon. Tesla and Edison. nanoMan and DARWIN. The world has certainly been graced with many prominent pairs. Wait, nanoMan and DARWIN, you ask? Well, where have you been? nanoMan and DARWIN are only two of the sharpest minds to emerge in the world of low-power technology.
OK, maybe power isn’t the sexiest of tech topics. But we all need it. As consumers, we demand that our electronic devices run for a long time in between charges, and we don’t want managing power to be cumbersome. So that’s why we rely on engineers to find ways to deliver power to smart, connected devices efficiently and to help us get the most out of the batteries.
This is where nanoMan and DARWIN can help. nanoMan, you see, is the world’s foremost expert in nanoPower technology, where currents are so low that they’re measured in nanoamperes. DARWIN, meanwhile, is the face of a smarter, leaner, and tougher breed of microcontrollers, built for the evolving internet of things (IoT). Together, nanoMan and DARWIN can provide assurance that you’ll be able to trust that your system won’t work the battery so hard that it’s completely drained by the end of the day. I sat down with the two of them recently for a deeper dive into these technologies. Here’s what they had to say:
nanoMan: As I travel the world to talk about nanoPower technology, I encourage engineers to lower their IQ. You see, the smartest engineers know that lowering the IQ, or quiescent current, of their products will help prolong battery life. Our electronics are getting smaller and this, of course, means smaller capacity batteries. No one wants a bulky battery pack on their wearable—so unsightly! And many of our portable electronics also spend a lot of their time in sleep mode, poised to act on the user’s command. In a device’s power supply, quiescent current is the biggest contributor to the system’s standby power consumption. Designing with parts that have low quiescent current is one way to improve power savings while devices are snoozing.
nanoPower ICs include comparators, op amps, supervisors, current-sense amplifiers, and regulators with less than a microamp of quiescent current. Try them in any small, battery-powered devices—especially those that spend a lot of time on a shelf or in sleep mode.
nanoMan wants you to lower your IQ
DARWIN: The microcontrollers named after me (proud moment!) are a perfect complement to nanoPower ICs. They’re made with wearable-grade power technology, which means you get the lowest active mode and SRAM retention power available…so you can then get the most out of smaller batteries. Trust me, your customers will thank you for this!
My microcontroller family includes Generation U ultra-low-power parts and Generation UP parts featuring ultra-low power and high performance. Take the MAX32660 from the Generation U camp. You can integrate this into a design with complex sensor processing without worrying about compromising the design’s battery life. Or the MAX32650 on the Generation UP side—it has five low-power modes: active, sleep, background, deep-sleep, and backup for clock, peripheral, and voltage control. Your high-performance, battery-powered application has been waiting for this type of device.
End users expect their electronic gadgets to run cool for long periods of time between charges. In single-chip solutions, Maxim’s high-performance PMICs deliver a complete set of power management capabilities that enable application processors to operate at peak levels and deliver a stable, high-quality user experience.
DARWIN is tickled to have an ultra-low-power family of microcontrollers named after him.
nanoMan: The good folks at Maxim just have a maniacal focus on low power. With the nanoPower ICs, you can see that they’re tuned in on the challenges of designing IoT products. The DC-DC converters are some of the smallest I’ve seen (and I’ve seen a lot in the industry!), they’ve got more than 95% peak efficiency to keep heat dissipation down, and they help you get the best active and standby operation. You’ll notice similar benefits with the amplifiers and microprocessor supervisors.
DARWIN: The microcontrollers are also built with the IoT in mind. No more worries about running out of code space—these devices have the biggest embedded memories in their class. They’re also designed with external memory interfaces, so you can run code from external flash or access external SRAM. If you need to grow your application size or meet a new product requirement, you can rest assured that you’ll have the resources needed. And we’ve all read the news about all of the crazy things hackers are getting into—dolls, thermostats…an aquarium?! Really? Well, I know we’re not all cryptography experts. With DARWIN microcontrollers, you don’t have to be. They feature the same advanced embedded security technology that’s inside government and financial applications.