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Managing Power Electronics: VLSI and DSP-Driven Computer Systems by Nazzareno Rossetti

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Chapter 1

Introduction

1.1 Technology Landscape

Power management is, literally and metaphorically, the hottest area in computing and computing appliances.

In 1965, while working at Fairchild Semiconductor, Gordon Moore predicted that the number of transistors in an integrated circuit would double approximately every two years. Moore's law, as his observation has been dubbed, has so far been the foundation of the business of personal computing and its derivative applications. With its publication in Electronics magazine on April 19th, 1965, Moore's law was introduced to the world, along with its profound technological, business, and financial implications.

As long as new computers continue to deliver more performance—and Moore's law says they will—people will continue to buy them. Whether people get bored with old technology or simply outgrow it, outdated computers seem to have little value. Hence, people are only willing to pay for the additional value of a new product, compared to the old one, not the value of a product in its entirety. This means consumers want to pay roughly the same price or even less for the new product as for the old. In essence they want the old technology for free and are willing to pay only for the new one.

Financially, building the facilities to produce smaller and smaller transistors requires billions of dollars of investment. For every new generation of chips, the old facility is either scrapped or used to produce some electronics down the food chain. ...

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