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EEMBC Benchmarks IoT Power

May 16, 2017

Author: Tom R. Halfhill

Debates over whose microcontroller and Bluetooth radio module are more power efficient for IoT applications will become easier to settle with EEMBC’s newest benchmarks. The industry consortium has introduced its first IoT-Communications suite, which measures the power consumption of a typical IoT client that transfers data using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). By far the most complex suite EEMBC has developed in its 20-year history, IoTMark-BLE is available for order now by members and nonmembers. It’s scheduled to ship in June.

Instead of measuring power, IoTMark-BLE actually measures energy consumption—power over time. The distinction is important because battery life depends on the total current a microcontroller draws to perform a particular task, regardless of its throughput performance. An MCU that consumes more peak power to finish the task quickly but spends more time sleeping between tasks might draw less current over time than an MCU that has a lower peak power but also sleeps less. Thus, IoTMark-BLE measures total energy consumption during several sleep-wake-sleep cycles for a typical task.

Modeling all types of IoT clients was impractical, so EEMBC created IoTMark-BLE as a synthetic benchmark that simulates the generic behavior of a typical client. To define this behavior, it spent six months studying various IoT edge-node devices. EEMBC engineering director Peter Torelli spent a year designing an extensible hardware and software framework that will support all of the consortium’s future energy benchmarks. Assisting him was the project’s working group, which includes almost all of the top MCU vendors and the world’s largest MCU-IP vendor (ARM), so it brings unbeatable experience and a competitive viewpoint to the problem.

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