Challenges ahead in low power set-top box design
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Challenges ahead in low power set-top box design Presentation at the ‘International Stakeholder Meeting’ San Francisco - 29th June 2005 Ken Dale – Consultant Engineer, Pace Micro Technology. Background and introduction. Pace Micro Technology profile

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Challenges ahead in low power set-top box designPresentation at the ‘International Stakeholder Meeting’San Francisco - 29th June 2005Ken Dale – Consultant Engineer, Pace Micro Technology

© 2005 Pace Micro Technology

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Background and introduction

  • Pace Micro Technology profile

    • An international company supplying set-top box product in the US, Canada, Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand

    • Pace have been an Energy Star partner with several compliant products

    • Committed to supporting energy efficiency standards worldwide

  • Speaker profile

    • Principal job is to design the power architecture and power solutions for Pace products

    • Additional role is to promote energy efficiency in those products, particularly so they meet existing voluntary standards and any future legislation

    • Pace prefer voluntary standards set by agreement and I have been active in seeking to set realistic limits

  • So why should business be concerned with energy efficiency?

    • City investors and analysts expect leading companies to have a credible environmental policy

    • It seems better to co-operate proactively than be forced by unrealistic legislation

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STB power consumption has been reduced, driven by voluntary targets

  • ‘Active Standby’ is specified by service providers if they require that the set-top box continues to receive signal

    • Power saving between full operation and active standby is limited

    • Operational power has come down so that the standby limit can be met

    • Greatest power saving is possible in more complex product

Key is in the choice of power architecture, design of efficient power conversion

and effective power management

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Challenge is to satisfy all 3 key drivers when designing for lower power


Improved by lower average operating temperature


Higher energy efficiency allows

greater flexibility in product

size and design


Main cost is a ‘one-off’ in software design

Cost of any higher efficiency components partially offset by savings due to lower input power

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Pace HDTV PVR lower power

Examples of what helps to give an energy efficient design

  • Power management

    • Make use of power-down features provided in the main silicon

    • Where possible, use dynamic clock management to match processing speed to activity actually required

    • Disable circuit blocks when they are not required

    • In active-standby, for example, disable unused tuners, MPEG decoder, video/audio DACs, NTSC encoder, hard disk drive, modem, peripheral ports

  • Power conversion efficiency

    • Choose power architecture to give low distribution and regulation losses

    • Design with components which give best practical efficiency over all modes of operation

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Newer digital TV technologies present energy efficiency challenges

  • High Definition video

    • Faster data rate from signal source

    • Increased processing to decode

  • Multi-room, multi-decode

    • Higher overall power and larger number of circuit blocks to manage

    • Need to know which programme streams are required at any particular time / location and power manage the hardware in the best way

    • The STB is less likely to be put into the lowest power standby state from a remote location

    • It may not be clear when the standby mode can be used

  • However, multi-room may result in fewer STBs in the home

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Who benefits from better energy efficiency? challenges

  • The Manufacturer can have a more reliable product

  • The Service Provider should have fewer product returns

  • The Shareholder has more confidence in the future of the business

  • The Customer has lower energy bills

  • The Government is helped with its energy policy

  • The Environment is better protected

Thank you and any questions?