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MCU power consumption benchmark developed

EEMBC – the Embedded Microprocessor Benchmark Consortium – has launched ULPBench in a move to provide designers with a better understanding of MCU power consumption.

Markus Levy, EEMBC's president, said: "We started the effort about a year ago and have 11 major MCU developers involved. All vendors claim their devices are low power, but we wanted to create a level playing field that allows their performance to be reviewed."

ULPBench features a series of benchmark tests, including ULPBench-CP, which measures CPU power efficiency via an energy monitoring tool. This small board will be available shortly through a range of distributors. "Previous benchmarks have been about running software," Levy said. "This is a combination of software and energy monitoring."

The benchmark requires an MCU to run memory and maths operations and the MCU must use a crystal oscillator. "It requires the CPU to wake up, initialise a workload, execute it and return to a low power mode once a second," Levy explained. "Using the energy monitor, we can determine energy consumed in terms of µJ/s and, from this, create a benchmark score. The higher the benchmark – which we are calling the ULPMark – the more energy efficient."

Users of ULPBench will be required to submit details of their tests to a central database which will allow other users to replicate their tests.

Graham Pitcher

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