SAN JOSE, Calif. — The Embedded Microprocessor Benchmark Consortium (EMBC) released the first of a planned family of tests to measure the energy efficiency of ultra-low-power microcontrollers. ULPBench-CP (core profile) is the first tool of the ULPBench series, targeting MCUs that consume 28 milliamps or less in active mode.
The benchmark aims to serve applications from medical implants to smart meters and Internet of Things devices that may need to run for years on a button-cell battery. It measures CPU core efficiency for eight-bit, 16-bit, and 32-bit microcontrollers, as well as their power modes and real-time clock and calendar (RTCC). Future versions will test the energy efficiency of peripherals and other hardware in specific applications.
The ULPBench-CP benchmark exercises an MCU's memory, math, sorting, and general-purpose I/O functions. It uses the RTCC to establish the chip's duty cycle to determine when to perform functions and when to enter a low-power mode. It determines the median of five times the average energy per second for 10 ULPBench cycles. The final ULPMark is expressed as 1,000 divided by that median.
The benchmark's EnergyMonitor tool can test MCUs with or without ULPBench. This tool connects a microcontroller board via USB to a PC, where the results are displayed.
Analog Devices, ARM, Atmel, Cypress, Freescale, Microchip, Renesas, Silicon Labs, Spansion, STMicroelectronics, and Texas Instruments contributed to the definition of the benchmark. The group started work in June. Other companies are welcome to join the effort to define subsequent versions.
ULPBench uses pulse density with a fixed quantum of energy per pulse as a measure of power consumed.
ULPBench will be in limited availability for $100 starting March 10 through EEMBC president Markus Levy, who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.