QNX Gives Developers Flexible Power Management Framework

4/24/2003 - OEMs building in-car telematics systems and mobile devices for the healthcare and military markets can now boost system responsiveness while extending battery life, thanks to a new and extremely flexible power management framework from QNX Software Systems.

Unlike conventional approaches to power management, the QNX framework gives designers precise, fine-grained control over the power consumption of each system component. As a result, each component draws power only when it has to. There's no need to wake up all components in a system and thereby drain the battery just because certain components need to run.

To provide fast, intelligent wakeups, the framework also allows individual applications and hardware peripherals to save their states before being suspended. As a result, any part of the system can, upon waking up, immediately resume where it left off.

"When it comes to power management, no two systems are the same. Even within a single product line, systems may use different power sources, CPUs, and peripherals, resulting in very different power management requirements," said Sachin Lawande, director, product management, QNX Software Systems. "With the new QNX power management framework, system designers can create a highly customized power management policy for each system they deploy, achieving longer battery life and, in many cases, a more responsive user experience."

A Choice of Mechanisms
Designed for systems based on the QNX® Neutrino® RTOS, the new framework allows systems designers to choose from two power management mechanisms. The first mechanism provides a simple, straightforward method for controlling the power modes of the CPU and of individual peripherals. The second, based on a centralized power manager, allows designers to implement a system-wide power management policy that can manage applications and other software services as well as hardware devices. With this approach, applications can become power-aware; for instance, they can save their state in the event of an impending power outage. Applications can also monitor the system and notify the power manager of any events (e.g. driver has pulled key out of ignition) that may require a change in the power mode.

Instantaneous bootups
Extremely fast bootups are critical to in-car telematics systems. As a result, the QNX power management framework allows only selected devices to be powered up when the system boots. Other devices can then be activated as required.

To further reduce boot times, the QNX Neutrino RTOS provides multi-stage booting: multiple image file systems (IFSs) can be loaded in sequence or concurrently. This provides fine control over the boot process, allowing faster initialization of critical components. For instance, in a telematics control unit (TCU), only essential OS services could be launched when the system first boots up, allowing the TCU to respond virtually instantaneously when the ignition is turned on.

Reference implementation gives developers a jump start
To give developers a jump start on creating their own power management policies, QNX Software Systems has included a sample policy in its board support package (BSP) for the Renesas Biscayne telematics platform. Based on Renesas' SH7760 series system-on-a-chip (SoC), the BSP describes how to map QNX Neutrino's power-mode definitions to Biscayne's power modes: normal, standby, sleep, deep sleep, etc. It also includes sample startup code for controlling the power state of the processor, as well as sample code for changing the power states of peripherals in response to various system events.

"The QNX framework allows telematics designers to fully exploit the power management capabilities of Biscayne's high-performance SH7760 SuperH® RISC architecture," said Tatsuo Yamamoto, vice president of the SuperH system solution business unit, Renesas Technology America Inc.* (formerly Hitachi Semiconductor America Inc.). "With the introduction of this framework, QNX Software Systems has taken yet another step at positioning QNX Neutrino as the premier RTOS for the in-car telematics industry."

* Renesas Technology Corp. is a joint semiconductor company established on April 1, 2003 by Hitachi, Ltd. and Mitsubishi Electric Corporation.

About QNX Software Systems
Founded in 1980, QNX Software Systems is the industry leader in realtime, microkernel OS technology. The inherent reliability, scalable architecture, and proven performance of the QNX Neutrino RTOS make it the most trusted foundation for future-ready applications in the networking, automotive, medical, and industrial automation markets. Companies worldwide like Cisco, Ford, Johnson Controls, Siemens, and Texaco depend on the QNX technology for their mission- and life-critical applications. Headquartered in Ottawa, Canada, QNX Software Systems maintains offices in North America, Europe, and Asia, and distributes its products in more than 100 countries worldwide. Visit www.qnx.com.

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