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Benchmark finds the ‘true cost’ of using BLE

EEMBC has announced the availability of IoTMark-BLE, a benchmark and analysis tool that has been developed to measure the energy efficiency of MCUs and Bluetooth radios used in IoT edge-node devices.

Battery life is often a critical factor in the development of these end-node devices, especially when they are difficult or inconvenient to access. While many MCUs are designed for ultra-low power, much of the energy budget in an IoT application must be allocated for transmitting and receiving data. As a result, whether the radio function is integrated into the microcontroller or added as a separate module, energy consumption is a dominant factor and can vary considerably between competing devices.

“The IoTMark-BLE provides IoT system developers with the means to select optimal microcontroller and wireless solutions for their application,” said Brent Wilson, co-chair of the EEMBC IoT-Connect working group and director of applications engineering at Silicon Laboratories. “IoTMark-BLE measures the energy used by the full subsystem – including the MCU, the radio and the protocol stack – while they perform relevant real-world tasks. Each part of the system impacts energy efficiency, so evaluating the whole radio system provides the most realistic evaluation of its battery life.”

IoTMark-BLE is the first of a suite of benchmarks the EEMBC IoT-Connect Working Group plans to deliver. Although the IoTMark-BLE targets IoT devices using Bluetooth, the benchmark can accommodate benchmarks targeting other communication protocols, including Wi-Fi, 6LoWPAN, and LPWAN.

EEMBC is also working to produce a suite of benchmarks that allows comparisons to be mde between MCUs, radios and modules, as well as between competing communication protocols. The key components include: an EnergyMonitor; a radio manager; and an I/O Manager.

Mark Wallis, co-chair of the EEMBC IoT working group and system architect at STMicroelectronics, added: “With IoTMark-BLE and the IoT-Connect framework, we’ve made it as easy as possible for developers to select the parameters and functions to ensure equitable comparisons while providing valuable insight beyond datasheet specifications.”

For more on EEMBC's benchmarking activities, click here.

Graham Pitcher

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