EEMBC begins work on ultra-low power MCU benchmarks

January 30, 2013

Bernard Cole-January 30, 2013

The Embedded Microprocessor Benchmark Consortium (EEMBC) today announced its intent to create a standardized, industry-endorsed method to evaluate the energy efficiency of ultra-low power (ULP) microcontrollers.

To date,said EEMBC president Markus Levy, the industry has lacked a common method to test, validate, and compare the real-world energy consumption of these microcontrollers that target applications such as portable medical devices, security systems, building automation, smart metering, and also applications using energy harvesting devices.

Unlike other EEMBC benchmarks that endeavor to measure the top performance of processors and systems, he said the ULP benchmark will focus on measuring the energy consumed by microcontrollers running various computational workloads over an extended time period.

The benchmarking methodology will allow the microcontrollers to enter into their idle or sleep modes during the majority of time when they are not executing code, thereby simulating a real-world environment where products must support battery life measured in months, years, and even decades.

Horst Diewald, chief architect of MSP430 microcontrollers at Texas Instruments (TI), has accepted the role as chair of the EEMBC ULP working group.

“We have seen a significant need for a well-constructed, industry-accepted benchmark to equitably evaluate the energy efficiency of microcontrollers,” he said. “Unfortunately, the application developer cannot rely on datasheet parameters alone to compare total microcontroller power consumption and select an appropriate microcontroller.”

Initial participation in the EEMBC ULP working group has come from industry-leading microcontroller vendors such as Analog Devices, ARM, Atmel, Cypress, Energy Micro, Freescale, Fujitsu, Microchip, Renesas, Silicon Labs, STMicro, and TI.

Preliminary details of the EEMBC ULP benchmark will be revealed on February 27, 2013, during the Ultra-low Power System Design Workshop at the Embedded World Conference in Nuremberg, Germany.

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