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Energy Micro AS - Embedded MCUs Get Smarter - 30 November 2012

Energy efficiency is increasingly being recognized as a key performance attribute of many electronic systems - and of embedded designs in particular.

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  • Products ranging from smart meters to wireless sensor nodes, mobile health monitors to intruder alarms, designers need to take every step possible to limit energy consumption.
  • MCUs need to operate reliably over a period of years or even decades while using the limited energy resources available from batteries or an energy harvesting system.
  • Since energy is 'power times time', using the 32-bit Cortex-M3 in preference to a less powerful alternative can prove more energy efficient: particularly if the designer opts for an MCU such as Energy Micro's Tiny Gecko, that even in active mode consumes only 150µA/MHz. In short, 'low power' does not necessarily mean 'low energy'.
  • The task for the designer is therefore to find the lowest-power sleep mode that provides adequate response to anticipated (if unscheduled) events.
  • Energy Micro's EFM32 Gecko family of energy-optimized 32-bit MCUs provides a good example of the basic requirements of each mode available.

  • The EFM32 family's energy mode transitions

  • EM0 "Run Mode": 180 µA/MHz
  • EM1 "Sleep Mode": 45 µA/MHz
  • EM2 "Deep Sleep Mode": 900 nA
    RTC, Power-on Reset, Brown-Out Detection
    RAM and CPU retained
  • EM3 "Stop Mode": 600 nA
    Power-on Reset
    RAM & CPU retained
  • EM4 "Shutoff Mode": 20 nA
    Power-on Reset

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