Last month I started a Low Power Design blog as a forum for engineers to exchange their experiences with battery-power and low-power design. Nearly all the information on the Internet about low-power design is hardware oriented yet firmware will often determine whether a product meets its power consumption or battery life goals. I worked on my first battery powered design in the mid 1990s and learned things then that I still haven't seen written about anywhere. It seems that information on low-power design is still considered proprietary instead of basic engineering so most engineers are left to figure it out on their own. However, as the operating and sleep currents of micros continue to fall, there are aspects of low-power design you will have to deal with whether your product is considered low-power or not.
The first two threads on the blog cover Micro Selection and Battery Selection. These may be the two single most important design decisions for a battery-powered product design and two areas that will require the most research. If you select a micro or battery technology that aren't a good match for the functionality of your product or the environment it operates, there is very little you can do to recover other than start over with your design.
It would be hard to argue that selecting the right micro is the most important factor in designing a low power product. Selecting the wrong micro is the most expensive mistake you can make in designing a low power product and the most difficult mistake to recover from. Unfortunately, there is no right micro for all low power designs.
There are a wide variety of battery technologies available today, ranging from the traditional lead-acid battery to the latest lithium polymer (LiPo) batteries. For the most part, your application will dictate the type of battery you use. In some cases you may have to decide between battery types when more than one would be suitable for you application.
Please check out the posts and lets open up the discussion about low power design.