EEMBC® Undertakes Development of Industry-Standard Ultra-Low Power Microcontroller Benchmarks

Industry Association Working Group Targets Products with Extended Battery Life

Background Documents:
ThreadX for MIPS
ULP Benchmark
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EL DORADO HILLS, Calif. — 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, 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.

EEMBC was formed in 1997 to develop performance benchmarks for the hardware and software used in embedded systems. EEMBC benchmarks help predict the performance and energy consumption of embedded processors and systems in a range of applications (i.e. automotive/industrial, digital imaging and entertainment, networking, office automation, telecommunications, and connected devices) and disciplines (processor core functionality, floating-point, Java, multicore, and energy consumption). The consortium’s popular CoreMark benchmark was recognized by Jack Ganssle in as one of the top ten milestones in embedded 2012.

Unlike other EEMBC benchmarks that endeavor to measure the top performance of processors and systems, 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,” commented Mr. Diewald. “Unfortunately, the application developer cannot rely on datasheet parameters alone to compare total microcontroller power consumption and select an appropriate microcontroller. This is the reason I am honored to chair this important working group.”

“EEMBC’s primary goal is to develop fair and unbiased benchmarks for the embedded industry. In support of this goal, I am very excited that the EEMBC members are so motivated to develop this much-needed ULP benchmark,” said EEMBC president Markus Levy. “In the system developer’s interest, we encourage all relevant companies, including the system manufacturers, microcontroller vendors, and tool providers, to join us in this effort.”

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. All companies in the industry are invited to participate in this working group. Contact Markus Levy to inquire about participation and membership in EEMBC. 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.


EEMBC, the Embedded Microprocessor Benchmark Consortium, develops industry-standard benchmarks to test embedded processors and systems, such as smartphones and network firewall appliances. EEMBC’s benchmark development work is supported by yearly member dues and license fees.

Image Caption: Future ultra-low power benchmark will focus on measuring the energy consumed by microcontrollers running various computational workloads over an extended time period.

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EEMBC, the Embedded Microprocessor Benchmark Consortium, founded in 1997, develops and certifies real-world benchmarks and benchmark scores.

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