Intel Unveils CMOS Voltage Regulator Technology at IDF

August 25, 2005 by Jeff Shepard

In a bid to reduce power consumption and fine-tune power management, Intel Corp. (Santa Clara, CA) demonstrated a new 100 MHz complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS) voltage regulator at its Intel Developer Forum (IDF), which can turn the central processing unit (CPU) power level up and down quickly. By following changes in CPU demand more closely -- responding within a fraction of a microsecond -- the CMOS voltage regulator can avoid sending power to the processor when it isn't needed.

Intel plans to drive down power consumption through "accelerated voltage regulation" (AVR), which will enable voltage level adjustments in a fraction of a microsecond compared to current "coarse-grained power management" that often disallows adjustments in voltage during fast-changing workloads. Intel discovered that AVR could save considerable amounts of power and deliver up to 20 to 40 minutes more computing time, when applied to the standards of today's notebooks.

Operating at an approximate frequency of 100 MHz, the new CMOS voltage regulator will be capable of reaching 85 percent efficiency, which translates into a 30-percent to 35-percent reduction in power consumption. To accomplish this, Intel discards the current analog voltage regulators located across from the CPU on current motherboards, and integrates the new CMOS voltage regulator inside a single package, located close or inside the CPU, so it takes a relatively longer period of time to send messages between the two. As a result, the regulators tend to keep power levels high, not knowing whether demand is about to go up again. Faster voltage regulation means increased response time, and less power wasted by each core. Intel integrated the CMOS voltage regulator and a graphics and memory controller hub (GMCH) with an ultra-low-voltage Pentium M 738 and an 855GM chipset.

The company reported that it will make its new CMOS voltage regulator technology available within a few years.