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Wireless sensor nodes are a versatile, general-purpose technology capable of measuring, monitoring and controlling their environment. Even though sensor nodes are becoming ever smaller and more power efficient, there is one area that is not yet fully addressed; power supply units (PSUs). Standard solutions that are efficient enough for electronic devices with higher power consumption than sensor nodes, such as mobile phones or PDAs, may prove to be ill suited for the extreme low-power and size requirements often found on wireless sensor nodes. In this paper, a system-level design of power management architecture (PMA) is presented. The PMA is an integration of PSU hardware and various software components, and is capable of supplying a sensor node with energy from multiple sources, as well as providing status information from the PSU. The heart of the architecture is a context- and power-aware task manager, which controls when the nodes low-power modes are activated, and is highly integrated with PSU hardware as well as other software components in the system. Its main responsibility is to schedule when energy consuming tasks can be dispatched. Depending on the task priority and system configuration, a task can be dispatched, discarded or delayed. This approach ensures that only critical tasks will be allowed to use the battery, and that the system will be powered by renewable energy when performing other non-critical tasks.
Date of Conference: 11-15 March 2007