ECE Seminar: Bringing Dynamic Voltage and Frequency Scaling to Low-Cost Embedded Systems

ECE Seminar: ECE Seminar: Bringing Dynamic Voltage and Frequency Scaling to Low-Cost Embedded Systems

Starts at: January 16, 2014 4:30 PM

Ends at: 5:30 PM

Location: Pittsburgh Campus: Scaife Auditorium (Room 125), Refreshments at 4pm. Silicon Valley campus: Room 118, Building 23 at 1:30pm PST

Speaker: Dr. Alexander G. Dean

Affiliation: North Carolina State University

Refreshments provided: Yes

Link to Abstract

Link to Video (1)



Dynamic voltage and frequency scaling (DVFS) is a common method for saving power and energy in high-performance computer systems. With DVFS, a digital circuit's supply voltage is set as low as possible to allow the system to operate at the current clock frequency. Because power is related quadratically to supply voltage, significant power and energy savings are possible.

Switch-mode power supplies (SMPS) are used to convert power between voltage levels efficiently. However, the cost of an SMPS limits the use of DVFS in low-cost embedded systems. Integrating the SMPS control software into the embedded system's MCU reduces costs dramatically and offers exciting opportunities for optimization given the system's particular requirements. However, the SMPS and control system must be able to tolerate the timing interference from higher-priority application processing and interrupt lock-out times.

This talk discusses the issues involved with such integration, starting with basic SMPS concepts and closed-loop control. Analysis and design techniques from the field of real-time computing systems are then applied to understand how to create a functional, reliable system.


Dr. Alexander Dean is an Associate Professor at the North Carolina State University's Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Director of the Center for Efficient, Scalable and Reliable Computing. He received his BS in EE from the University of Wisconsin in 1991 and his MS (1994) and PhD (2000) in ECE from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA. He has performed over 80 in-depth embedded software reviews for Emerson's Software Center of Excellence since 2001.

His research involves using compiler, operating system and real-time system techniques to extract more performance from commodity microcontrollers in embedded systems while reducing clock speed, energy and memory requirements.

He has developed three courses on embedded system design at NCSU and regularly teaches two. In these courses students learn how to develop efficient multi-threaded C code for embedded systems quickly and effectively, while remaining cognizant of the assembly-level implications of their source code decisions. Students also learn methods to analyze an embedded system's run-time performance, real-time behavior, and memory requirements.

Dr. Dean has written three textbooks and developed supporting course materials on embedded system design, analysis and optimization. He is currently writing a fourth textbook.