Wednesday, July 7, 2010

TI on green power and MCUs

Here's the second part of the TI roundtable, held recently.

Green power and TI
Ramprasad Ananthaswamy, director, Power Management Products, Texas Instruments India, discussed the various aspects of green power. The notion of energy and power management has become central to every country’s foreign policy, including India. The current demand is 2.1 billion units, and rising, while only 1.85 billion units are currently available.

The power IC landscape is rapidly evolving – new technologies are being developed. Even well established mega-markets are changing process technologies that are used – driven, for example, by the integration of added sensor functionality.

Ananthaswamy highlighted TI's role in green power. TI, along with leading energy harvesting vendors, are creating a complete ecosystem allowing designers to not only envision but also create a battery-less world. Also, TI's LED lighting portfolio and worldwide technical support network are helping LED designers achieve their goals faster.

Think MCUs
Shailesh Thakurdesai, business development manager - Microcontrollers, touched upon the role of MCUs. For instance, are you aware that an average person touches approximately 300 microcontrollers in a day? Almost every electronic device that an average person touches through the course of the day features an MCU. MCUs are everywhere -- in applications like personal healthcare and fitness, security, automotive safety & infotainment and consumer electronics.

From energy harvesting to aiding cutting-edge medical applications to bringing healthcare into homes, MCUs have helped to make a difference in the way people use electronics. In the energy segment, MCUs are used in:

* Street/ commercial LED lighting, home lighting etc.
* UPS, battery chargers and inverters.
* Energy harvesting, renewable energy generation, solar micro inverters etc.
* Metering – energy, water, gas.
* MCUs help arm modern-day electronics with longer battery life, portability and functionality.

In healthcare, it can be used for applications like personal healthcare and fitness equipment, portable healthcare devices like digital thermometers, handheld ultrasound, blood pressure meters, etc. It is also used in consumer electronics like mobile phones, computers, TVs, toys, etc.

Turning his attention to alternative energies, he said that the world consumes 15 TW of energy every year. This is likely to go up to ~30 TW by 2030. While only 370 TW of wind energy is “harvestable” each year, a whopping 89,000 TW of solar energy is “harvestable” each year.

Thakurdesai presented an overview of solar inverters, and specifically discussed the role of TI's MSP430 MCU. Solar inverters could contain an MSP430 to keep the standby power consumption down. The most interesting MSP430 applications in solar inverters are external status displays or data-logging devices.

Metering is yet another application area. According to him, metering applications in a ‘smart grid’ set-up includes and adjacent segments in the home – electrical, water, gas meters, thermostats, smart appliances, in home display, demand response units, etc. The TI portfolio contains all ingredients for optimized metering system solutions.

Consumer applications and medical applications are two other interesting areas for MCUs.

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