Automotive microcontroller benchmark takes energy efficiency into account

May 21, 2013 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Today, cars are crammed with microprocessors, and many of them are not completely switched off when the driver parks and locks the vehicle. Instead, many remain "semi-active" in sleep mode - and over time, even ultra-low power processors discharge the battery. To gain a foundation for assessment of microprocessor power consumption, the Volkswagen and the Embedded Microprocessor Benchmark Consortium (EEMBC) group plan to jointly establish an energy-efficiency benchmark for microcontrollers. The results will help designers to make automotive control units more energy aware.

Microcontroller efficiency - optimizing both performance and energy - is a critical parameter with far-reaching consequences, especially with the rising number of microcontrollers in the car. The working group project, to augment results originally produced in 2011, is being chaired by Volkswagen and currently joined by eleven top-tier semiconductor vendors including Freescale, Fujitsu, Infineon, Microchip, NXP, Renesas, STMicroelectronics, and TI. Already, the effort has yielded a full working specification for measuring performance and energy efficiency of automotive microcontrollers under various low-power operating conditions. EEMBC has also developed a prototype of this benchmark implemented on several key semiconductor evaluation boards.

"We're pleased that Volkswagen is continuing its important leadership role with the consortium and look forward to the insight they and the working group will provide to help EEMBC define and create our next-generation automotive benchmark suite,” said. “Volkswagen has been a long-time leader in the automotive industry and as chair of this project, they will continue to provide inputs to ensure the real-world value of this benchmark and subsequent versions that will address increasing microcontroller complexity and robustness requirements.

“Volkswagen is continuing to chair the EEMBC Automotive working group and lend its expertise to ensure that the benchmark reflects real-world system-design conditions and leads to improved efficiency,” said Volkswagen’s head of electric and electronic development, Dr. Volkmar Tanneberger. “Following completion of this new benchmark suite, we will demand the tier 1 suppliers and semiconductor vendors to provide results for the microcontrollers that will be integrated into the next generation of electronic modules.” The benchmark will be used also by electronics designers of other members of the Volkswagen group such as Audi, Skoda and Seat.

EEMBC’s first-generation automotive benchmark suite, AutoBench, was designed to focus on the CPU’s processing power, measuring the time required to complete specific algorithms. The new benchmark suite adds new tests to measure CPU performance while simultaneously monitoring peripherals and energy usage. Individual tests of the microcontroller