November 10, 2015 08:01 ET

EEMBC Reveals Impact of Compiler Technology in Optimizing Ultra-Low Power IoT Applications

Latest ULPBench™ Results From Texas Instruments Incorporated and IAR Systems Demonstrate Significant Energy Efficiency Improvements

EL DORADO HILLS, CA--(Marketwired - Nov 10, 2015) - The Embedded Microprocessor Benchmark Consortium (EEMBC, pronounced "embassy") today unveiled boosted certified ULPBench™ results for the Texas Instruments (TI) MSP430FR6972 microcontroller (MCU) and MSP430FR5969 MCU, utilizing the latest version of IAR Embedded Workbench. EEMBC ULPBench is a standardized, industry-developed and endorsed method to provide application developers with accurate, reliable information that allows them to equitably compare the energy efficiency of microcontrollers targeted at ultra-low power (ULP) applications. These extremely efficient microcontrollers target applications for the Internet of Things (IoT), as well as those that include portable or implantable medical devices, security systems, building automation, smart metering, energy-harvesting devices, and smart-dust environment monitoring.

The MCUs are part of TI's MSP430FRxx microcontroller series featuring non-volatile FRAM. IAR Embedded Workbench is an integrated development environment including an optimizing C/C++ compiler that supports 40 different processor architectures. Recent compiler enhancements were specifically targeted at the MSP430FRxx MCU product family, allowing developers to link their application code objects to better take advantage of the dual-pipeline, 64-bit cache architecture. Due to this enhancement, the ULPBench scores jumped from 117 to 123, representing a five percent improvement.

"Although a five percent improvement might not sound very impressive, it represents a very important lesson for developers of ultra-low power applications, that is, optimizing for energy efficiency requires a judicious approach to selecting the right microcontroller and development tools and carefully writing your application code. For example, ensuring that data placements were aligned to minimize non-volatile memory fetches will have a noteworthy impact on a product's battery life," said Markus Levy, EEMBC's president. "To further emphasize the value of the compiler in ULP applications, another microcontroller vendor's device recently yielded a 23 percent improvement in ULPBench results by switching from one compiler to another. These results can be viewed on the EEMBC website."

"Providing our developers with low-power microcontrollers without compromising performance has always been one of our main priorities at TI. We are thrilled that our architectural advantages in the MSP microcontroller family are leading to these benchmark results," said Miller Adair, General Manager, MSP microcontrollers at TI. "We are excited to be a member of EEMBC and to help build benchmarking tools like ULPBench that will provide our customers and others with reliable and real-world information for devices such as our MSP FRAM MCU family."

"In this new compiler version, we included a combination of several peephole optimizations. For example, one enhancement focused on better utilization of hardware multiplier units," said Petter Edman, CTO of IAR. "In addition to the improvements in the active mode component of ULPBench, these enhancements will also improve performance of matrix math operations in general."

The EEMBC ULPBench working group, chaired by Stefan Schauer, application verification and validation engineer at TI, is expanding the functionality of its energy benchmark to include various peripheral functions in MCUs. Building on ULPBench, EEMBC previously announced a working group focused on the energy efficiency of edge nodes (end points) on the Internet of Things (IoT). To join either working group, contact Markus Levy for details.

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).

EEMBC members include Ambiq Micro, AMD, Analog Devices, Andes Technology, ARM, Atmel, C-Sky Microsystems, Cavium, Cypress Semiconductor, Dell, Freescale Semiconductor, Green Hills Software, IAR Systems, Imagination Technologies-MIPS, Infineon Technologies, Intel, Lockheed Martin, Marvell Semiconductor, MediaTek, Microchip Technology, Nokia Networks, Nordic Semiconductor, NVIDIA, NXP Semiconductors, Qualcomm, Realtek Semiconductor, Red Hat, Renesas Electronics, Samsung Electronics, Silicon Labs, Somnium Technologies, Sony Computer Entertainment, STMicroelectronics, Synopsys, Texas Instruments, TOPS Systems, and Wind River Systems.

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