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Publication numberUS20050132080 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/961,516
Publication dateJun 16, 2005
Filing dateOct 8, 2004
Priority dateOct 31, 2000
Also published asDE60143707D1, EP1330699A1, EP1330699A4, EP1330699B1, US6804790, US20020091954, WO2002039242A1
Publication number10961516, 961516, US 2005/0132080 A1, US 2005/132080 A1, US 20050132080 A1, US 20050132080A1, US 2005132080 A1, US 2005132080A1, US-A1-20050132080, US-A1-2005132080, US2005/0132080A1, US2005/132080A1, US20050132080 A1, US20050132080A1, US2005132080 A1, US2005132080A1
InventorsSokwoo Rhee, Sheng Liu
Original AssigneeMillennial Net, A Massachusetts Corporation
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Coordinating protocol for a multi-processor system
US 20050132080 A1
Abstract
A multi-processor computing system included a plurality of processing units is provided in which each of the plurality of processing units operates at clock frequency and a coordinating protocol is used to assign tasks and operations to any of the plurality of processing units in a manner such that the power efficiency of the system is optimized.
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Claims(2)
1. A networked computing system with improved power consumption comprising:
a plurality of processing units including at least first and second processing units, said first processing unit including a coordinating protocol,
wherein the first processing unit utilizes the coordinating protocol to control the operation of the system such that the power consumption of the system is minimized.
2-33. (Canceled).
Description
RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims priority of U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/244,502 filed Oct. 31, 2000 and entitled I-BEAN: AN INTEGRATED WIRELESS COMMUNICATION AND COMPUTING DEVICE USING NOVEL POWER SAVING ALGORITHMS FOR MINIMAL ENERGY OPERATIONS.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to a networked processing system with an optimized power efficiency.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Power efficiency and minimizing power usage are important issues in networked systems, such as communications systems and computing systems. Programs which monitor the usage of various components of a computer system and shut down or minimize some of those components have been used in the past.

However, one area in which such power conservation has not been utilized is with respect to processing units. Whether in networked computer systems or communications systems, optimizing the power efficiency of processing units has not been previously addressed. For example, computer systems with multiple processors operate all processors in parallel at the same time to improve overall system performance without consideration to the power usage involved.

In multiple processor systems, specific tasks such as disk operations, display operations and keyboard input may be assigned to each processor. Another method of improving performance is to assign specific programs, such as word processing and spreadsheet programs, to separate processors. What these systems fail to address is the power used when the processor units are idling. Even when idling, processors are using power with every tick of the processor clock. For high speed processors, this can result in a substantial power usage.

This problem is particularly evident in portable units where the power is limited to that which is available from batteries. One solution used in laptop computers is to slow the processor speed when the laptop computer is running on battery. For example, a processor chip may operate at 1 GHz when the computer is connected to an AC power outlet and at 500 MHz when running on the internal battery. This results in a significant impact on the performance of the system.

Likewise, communications systems such as cellular phones experience considerable idle time during which power continues to be used in order to keep the system ready to transmit or receive signals. This use of power even when idling causes portable, battery-powered units to require frequent recharging.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is therefore an object of this invention to provide a networked processing system in which power usage is minimized.

It is a further object of this invention to provide a networked processing system in which performance is optimized.

It is a further object of this invention to provide a multi-tasking, multiple processor system in which the power efficiency is optimized.

It is a further object of this invention to provide a self-contained, miniaturized computer with a built in power source, flash memory, digital I/O interface and radio frequency (RF) transceiver for bi-directional communication.

The invention results from the realization that, in a multi-tasking, multi-processor environment, the power efficiency of the system can be optimized by coordinating the usage of processing units such that tasks are run on the appropriate speed processing unit and unused processing units are placed in sleep mode.

This invention features a networked computing system with improved power consumption comprising a plurality of processing units including at least first and second processing units. A coordinating protocol is operative on the first and second processing units and controls the operation of the system such that the power consumption of the system is minimized.

In a preferred embodiment, the first and second processing units are interconnected. The first processing unit operates at a first clock frequency, and the second processing unit operates at a second clock frequency. The first clock frequency may be lower than the second clock frequency.

The first processing unit assigns a task to the first or second processing units based on the clock frequency required to run the task such that the minimum power is used. The first processing unit may instruct the second processing unit to enter a minimum power usage mode. The first processing may activate the second processing unit from the minimum power usage mode when a task is to performed by the second processing unit. The first processing unit may transfer the coordinating protocol to the second processing unit.

The processing units may be communications device which may be bi-directional communications devices. The first processing unit may instruct the second processing unit to enter a minimum power usage mode for a preprogrammed time. The second processing unit may poll the first processing unit after the preprogrammed time. The preprogrammed time may be variable.

This inventions also provides a multiple processor computer system comprising a plurality of processing units, each of the plurality of processing units operating at a clock frequency. A first processing unit operates at a clock frequency lower than the remaining processing units. A coordinating protocol is operable on the first processing unit and coordinates the operation of the system such that the power efficiency is optimized.

In a preferred embodiment, each of the plurality of processing units operates at a different clock frequency. The first processing unit may transfer the coordinating protocol to a second processing unit of the plurality of processing units. The second processing unit may transfer the coordinating protocol to any of the plurality of processing units.

This invention also features a wireless communication system comprising a base unit and a plurality of terminal units in communication with the base unit. Each of the plurality of terminal units has a duty cycle. The base unit controls the duty cycle of each of the plurality of terminal units to optimize the power efficiency of the system.

In a preferred embodiment, the base unit may instruct at least one of the terminal units to enter a minimum power consumption mode for a preprogrammed time. The base unit and the plurality of terminal units may be bi-directional. The terminal unit may poll the base unit after the preprogrammed time.

This invention also features a method for optimizing the power efficiency of a multi-processor computer system including the steps of providing a plurality of processing units including at least first and second processing units, each processing unit operating at a clock frequency, and operating a coordinating protocol on the first processing unit. The coordinating protocol is operative to receive a request to perform a task, determine to which of the processing units to assign the task, and assign the task to one of the plurality of processing units. The coordinating protocol determines which processing unit to which a task is to be assigned based on optimizing the power efficiency of the system.

The method may also include the steps of transferring the coordinating protocol from the first processing unit to the second processing unit based on the speed required to run the coordinating protocol. The coordinating protocol may be further transferred from the second processing unit to any of the plurality of processing units based on the speed required to run the coordinating protocol.

This invention also features a self-contained, miniaturized computer system including first and second processing units, the first processing unit including a coordinating protocol operable to coordinate the operation of the first and second processing units, a power source, a flash memory module and a RF transceiver, wherein the coordinating protocol assigns tasks to the first and second processing units to optimize the power efficiency of the system.

In a preferred embodiment, the first processing unit operates at a clock frequency of 32 kHz and the second processing unit operates at a clock frequency of 4 MHz. The power source may be a battery.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Other objects, features and advantages will occur to those skilled in the art from the following description of a preferred embodiment and the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a schematic diagram of a networked processing system according to the subject invention;

FIG. 2 is a block diagram of a bi-directional wireless communication system according to the subject invention;

FIG. 3 is a timing diagram illustrating the transfer of the coordinating protocol among processing units according to the subject invention;

FIG. 4 is a block diagram of the method of the subject invention; and

FIGS. 5A, 5B and 5C are block schematic diagrams of a self-contained computer according to the subject invention.

PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

Networked processing system 10, FIG. 1, includes a number of interconnected processing units 12, 14, 16, 18, and 20. There should be at least two interconnected processing units, and there may be any number N of these processing units in system 10. Each processing unit operates at a given clock frequency, f1, f2, f3, f4, . . . fN, respectively. The clock frequencies may all be the same, one or more of the clock frequencies may be the same, or all of the clock frequencies may be different. In a preferred embodiment, each processing unit operates at a different clock frequency, with f1,<f2<f3<f4< . . . fN.

Processing units 12, 14, 16, 18 and 20 may be central processing units (CPUs) used in many desktop and portable computers today. These processing units may be networked externally, i.e., one or more processing unit may be located in a separate enclosure, or they may be networked internally, i.e., the processing units may be located on a single circuit board or interconnected via an internal data bus in the same computer enclosure.

In operation, processing unit 12 includes a coordinating protocol 15 which is used to control the operation of system 10 by assigning tasks and operations to various processing units based upon the speed required to perform a given task of function. Coordinating protocol 15 is designed to assign tasks to the various processing units with the result being the optimization of the power efficiency of system 10.

For example, the coordinating protocol will allow processing unit 12 to assign a given task or operation to itself or to any other processing unit 14, 16, 18 or 20 based upon the speed requirements of the task or operation and the clock frequencies of the various processing units. Tasks and operations which require lower clock frequencies, which may include such tasks as refreshing a display or operations such as processing keyboard entries, will be assigned to processing units with lower clock frequencies. Because those processing units operate at lower clock frequencies, the power efficiency of the system as a whole will be optimized. When the task load of the system is low enough, processing units may even be shut off or placed into a “sleep” mode to further optimize the power efficiency of the system. One processing unit will always need to remain active to run the coordinating protocol so it may reactivate any processing units which have been shut down.

In a preferred embodiment, the coordinating protocol may be transferred from one processing unit to another processing unit. As shown in FIG. 3, there are N processing units 50, 52, 54, each operating at a respective clock frequency of f1, f2, . . . fN, with f1<fs< . . . fN. Processing unit 50 is the “watchdog”, i.e., the processing unit that runs the coordinating protocol, from time T0 to time T4. During that period, processing unit 50 activates processing unit 52 at time T1, deactivates processing unit 52 at time T2, and activates processing unit 54 at time T3. At time T4, processing unit 50 activates processing unit 52 and transfers the coordinating protocol to processing unit 52 which then becomes the “watchdog.” Processing unit 52 deactivates processing units 50 and 54 at time T5, reactivates processing unit 54 at time T6, and reactivates processing unit 50 at time T7. Processing unit 52 transfers the coordinating protocol back to processing unit 50 time at T7, whereby processing unit 50 resumes the “watchdog” responsibility. Finally, processing unit 50 deactivates processing units 52 and 54 at time T8.

Transferring the coordinating protocol between processing units is useful when the coordinating protocol itself requires a higher clock frequency than that of the lowest clock frequency available. For example, if the number of tasks requested is high enough, the coordinating protocol may require a clock frequency higher than that of the lowest clock frequency available to efficiently and effectively handle the assignment of the tasks to various processing units. Normally, the power efficiency is generally optimized when the coordinating protocol is run by the processing unit with the lowest clock frequency as this processing unit uses the minimum power when idling due to the low clock frequency.

One application of a computing system where this invention is particularly useful is laptop, or other portable, computers. By using multiple processing units in a laptop combined with the coordinating protocol of this invention, it is possible to optimize the power consumption of the laptop computer such that the battery life is maximized.

In another embodiment, communications system 30, FIG. 2, includes base station 32 and at least one portable communications device 34. System 30 may include a plurality of M portable communications devices 34, 36, 38, 40, 42, and 44. Base station 32 is usually connected to a continuous power supply (not shown) such that the power efficiency of base station 32 is not relevant. However, portable communications device 34 (and 36, 38, 40, 42, and 44 in a multi-point system) are usually powered by batteries which have a finite amount of power. Therefore, optimizing the power efficiency of the system, and particularly of the portable communications device(s), is important. Even so, such optimization must also allow for the communications system to operate effectively, i.e., to be able to send and/or receive signals without significant delay.

In one embodiment, base station 32 is bi-directional and portable communications devices 34, 36, 38, 40, 42 and 44 are receive only devices. Base station 32 includes a coordinating protocol which controls the operation of the portable communications devices. For example, base station 32 controls the duty cycle of the portable communications devices by placing one or more of the portable communications devices in a minimum power usage mode for a preprogrammed time. After the preprogrammed time, the portable communications device automatically returns to the standby mode awaiting another signal. The minimum power usage mode uses less power than the standby mode. By placing a portable communications devices into the minimum power usage mode, the power efficiency of that portable communications device is optimized.

The preprogrammed time may be variable. For example, if a particular portable communications device is required to be active very infrequently, the preprogrammed time is longer than for a portable communications device that is required to be used more frequently. This allows for the maximum efficiency in the power consumption of the system as a whole. Also, if a particular task is run less frequently, the preprogrammed time for a portable communications device on which that task is to be run may be longer than for a portable communications device on which a task that is run more frequently.

In another embodiment, portable communications devices 34, 36, 38, 40, 42, and 44 are also bi-directional. In this embodiment, base station 32 may put a portable communications device into minimum power mode for a preprogrammed time. However, because the portable communications device is bi-directional, after the preprogrammed time, the portable communications device may poll base station 32 to notify the base station that the portable communications device is once again in the standby mode. This allows base station 32 to transmit any signals which may have been queued up during the preprogrammed time.

In another embodiment, computer 60, FIGS. 5A-5C, is a self-contained, miniaturized computer. Computer 60 includes first processing unit 62, RF transceiver 64, second processing unit 66 (FIG. 5B), low clock frequency crystal 68, high clock frequency crystal 70 and I/O connector 72 all mounted on circuit board 74. Power source 76, FIG. 5C, for example a battery, may be attached to circuit board 74.

The small size and low power consumption of computer 60 allows computer 60 to operate from battery 70 for its entire life span. In a preferred embodiment, first processing unit 62 operates at a clock frequency of 32 kHz, and second processing unit 66 operates at a clock frequency of 4 MHz. A coordinating protocol operates so that computer 60 may perform signal processing and RF transmission with optimum power efficiency. Such self-contained, miniaturized computers are useful in communications systems and locally networked computer systems.

A method for optimizing the power efficiency of a multi-processor computer system is also provided. Step 80 of providing a plurality of processing units, FIG. 4, includes providing at least first and second processing units. Each of the processing units operates at a clock frequency. In a preferred embodiment, the clock frequencies of each of the plurality of processing units is different, although this is not a necessary limitation. Step 82 of operating a coordinating protocol on the first processing unit includes receiving a request to perform a task, determining to which processing unit to assign the task, and assigning the task to a processing unit. In a preferred embodiment, step 84 of transferring the coordinating protocol from the first processing unit to the second processing unit may be included. In a further embodiment, step 86 of transferring the coordinating protocol from the second processing unit to any of the plurality of processing units may be included. Optional steps 84 and 86 provide for transferring the coordinating protocol based on the speed required to operate the coordinating protocol. For example, if the number of task requested is high, a higher clock speed processing unit may be required to run the coordinating protocol.

Although specific features of the invention are shown in some drawings and not in others, this is for convenience only as each feature may be combined with any or all of the other features in accordance with the invention. The words “including”, “comprising”, “having”, and “with” as used herein are to be interpreted broadly and comprehensively and are not limited to any physical interconnection. Moreover, any embodiments disclosed in the subject application are not to be taken as the only possible embodiments.

Other embodiments will occur to those skilled in the art and are within the following claims:

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7251570May 4, 2005Jul 31, 2007Power Measurement Ltd.Data integrity in a mesh network
US7321316May 4, 2005Jan 22, 2008Power Measurement, Ltd.Grouping mesh clusters
US7522563Nov 26, 2002Apr 21, 2009Millennial Net, Inc.Network protocol
US7948930Nov 4, 2008May 24, 2011Millennial Net, Inc.Network protocol
US8098615Apr 15, 2011Jan 17, 2012Millennial Net, Inc.Network protocol
US8829821Mar 1, 2013Sep 9, 2014Cree, Inc.Auto commissioning lighting fixture
Classifications
U.S. Classification709/230
International ClassificationG06F15/177, G06F9/50, G06F9/46, G06F1/28, G06F1/32, G06F1/30, G06F1/26, G06F15/00
Cooperative ClassificationG06F9/5094, Y02B60/1217, G06F9/5044, Y02B60/144, G06F1/3203, Y02B60/142, G06F1/329
European ClassificationG06F1/32P, G06F9/50P, G06F1/32P5T, G06F9/50A6H