Test Gets Even More Complex



Welcome to the September issue of PSD! We are again moving into conference season, but with no electronica this year and no large shows concentrating solely on the power industry, it will be a bit quieter than normal, for me at least. I’m sure there won’t be a halt in innovation just because there are no power focussed exhibitions in the second half of the year, although a slowdown in the global economy may at least delay some R&D. Hopefully it doesn’t come to a full blown recession and things pick up again once inventories have been cleared.

In this month we look at test and measurement. For the power industry, every joule of energy given off as heat is a joule wasted. While a few joules wasted here and there may not seem like much if you are dealing with Megawatts or Kilowatts, at the other end of the scale regular losses can take months or years off the expected battery life of a product. In IoT applications, a single coin battery may be expected to wake up a processor regularly, take an environmental measurement, send the measurement to a hub and then power down. These sensor nodes are often found in remote or hard to reach areas, making changing batteries difficult, if not impossible in some cases. Keeping to the expected lifetime is very important for these applications. But it’s not so simple to form accurate estimates of the lifetime of a battery because of changing demands.

Brad Jolly from Keysight writes about how accurate battery drain analysis combined with event based analysis can give the insights required to make a serious estimate of the expected lifetime of a battery. For constant drain applications, simple test equipment is sufficient, but devices that perform more complex operations need instruments with much greater flexibility.

Another area of the industry where modern test equipment is required for designers of power equipment is in applications that require many different power sources, each with their own tolerances, slew rates and sequencing demands. If the supply is not precise, the different rails can interfere with each other affecting the overall performance of the system. As tolerances become tighter and the supply has to meet more load conditions, accurate measurement is a necessity. Dr. Markus Herdin from Rohde & Schwarz takes a look at the problem and gives some tips on the best equipment to use when testing multiple rails and how to get the best results, whether the device to be powered is memory, a processor or any other type of complex SoC.

These trends show no signs of slowing, and power testing will get even more complex in the future and keeping up to date with the latest techniques is even more vital. I hope you enjoy these features and the rest of September’s articles.

Best Regards,

Ally Winning,

European Editor, PSD