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Targeting the Ultra-Low Power Domain

Whether the targets are IoT devices or other type of battery-powered application, the implications of ultra-low power (ULP) varies. The lowest active current is required when the power source is severely limited (e.g., energy harvesting). The lowest sleep current is required when the system spends most of its time in standby mode, waking up infrequently (periodically or asynchronously) to process a task. ULP can also imply great energy efficiency, whereby the most work is performed in a limited time period. Overall, the application requires tradeoffs on all of the above. To ensure ULP operation over periods of months, years, and decades, developers face numerous optimization challenges. An increasing number of microcontrollers ‘claim’ ULP capabilities, but developers cannot rely on datasheet parameters alone. The EEMBC® ULPMark™ standardizes datasheet parameters and provides a methodology to reliably and equitably measure MCU energy efficiency.

Two Versions of ULPMark™
  • ULPMark-Core Profile (version 1.0) focuses on the MCU’s core. This benchmark utilizes a common set of workloads that are portable across 8-, 16-, and 32-bit microcontrollers. The Core Profile runs on a one-second duty cycle combining these workloads with an extended period of inactivity to enable the use of microcontroller low-power modes.

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  • ULPMark-Peripheral Profile (version 2.0)focuses on the MCU’s commonly used peripherals, including pulse-width modulation (PWM), analog-to-digital conversion (ADC), serial peripheral interface (SPI), and real-time clock (RTC). ULPMark 2.0 defines ten 1-second activity slots each with variable usage of ADC, SPI, PWM, RTC, allowing the MCU and peripherals to sleep after their activities have completed.

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ULPMark Measurement Methodology

Both versions of ULPMark utilize the EEMBC IoTConnect™ Framework, portable to any vendor’s microcontroller
Provides external stimuli for the MCU’s peripherals and coordinates the timing of the energy measurements
Compatible with EEMBC IoTMark™-BLE and EEMBC SecureMark™ benchmarks

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Working Group Status
  • MCU vendors and others are submitting results for ULPMark-CP and ULPMark-PP
  • Join the EEMBC ULPMark working group to help ensure a meaningful and fair representation for your company’s products. Email EEMBC for more information.


  • Monica Redon, Analog Devices


  • Analog Devices, Andes Technology, ARM, Cypress, Dialog Semiconductor, Flex, Intel, Microchip, NXP, Nordic Semiconductor, ON Semiconductor, Renesas, Silicon Labs, STMicro, Texas Instruments.

IoTConnect Framework Interface

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What Does it Mean to be ULPMark Ready?

  • It’s an MCU board that allows easy connection of the EEMBC EnergyMonitor to the microcontroller.
  • The MCU vendor has provided a detailed description of how to setup a board to run ULPMark.
  • The MCU board can only be modified simply (e.g. jumper settings) with no hardware modifications
  • Vendor has provided documentation of tools needed, platform and project files, etc.

ULPMark Ready

Beyond the Data Sheets of Ultra-Low-Power MCUs: What Does Energy Efficiency Really Mean? (Elektroniknet.de)

ULPMark Goes Peripheral

ULPBench Debunked

Representing ULPMark Results in Device Datasheets