Track and optimise MCU-system power demand in real time

June 10, 2013 // By Paul Buckley
Microchip has released the MPLAB REAL ICE Power Monitor Module, which enables designers to identify and eliminate code that consumes high current, in real time.

Combined with the MPLAB REAL ICE in-circuit emulator and MPLAB X IDE, this development platform allows users to measure, graphically profile and optimise code power consumption for all of Microchip's more than 1000 8-bit, 16-bit and 32-bit PIC microcontrollers.  Additionally, it offers microamp current measurement, with an overall dynamic range up to 1A, and a voltage range of 1.25 to 5.5V.  At  $379.99, Microchip’s Power Monitor Module is more cost effective than similar tools, the company claims, making it suitable for a broad range of battery-powered, digital power-supply, motor-control and metering applications.

Embedded designers continue to seek new ways to optimise power consumption for both extended battery life and greater line-power efficiency.  As MCU vendors and users have greatly reduced hardware power consumption - such as the 9 nA sleep and 30 µA/MHz active current consumption of Microchip’s eXtreme Low Power (XLP) PIC MCUs - application software is the next place for engineers to focus.  Microchip’s Power Monitor Module provides programmable power to the target, as well as sampling intervals, enabling users to run at specific voltage levels and see tailored measurements.  Designers can also set a 'current break' threshold level that breaks when exceeded, allowing them to pinpoint the code causing the spike and debug it.  All of these measurements can be displayed graphically, via the 'Current Profile Graphing' feature, enabling engineers to better understand which sections of their code are consuming higher current.
Microchip Technology,