• FRAM based low power systems for low duty cycle applications

      Gossel, Cody A.; Raskovic, Dejan; Thorsen, Denise; Sonwalkar, Vikas (2019-05)
      Ferro-Electric Random Access Memory (FRAM) is a leap forward in non-volatile data storage technology for embedded systems. It allows for persistent storage without any power consumption, fulfilling the same role as flash memory. FRAM, however, provides several major advantages over flash memory, which can be leveraged to substantially reduce sleep current in a device. In applications where most of the time is spent sleeping these reductions can have a large impact on the average current. With careful design sleep currents as low as 72 nA have been demonstrated. A lower current consumption allows for more flexibility in deploying the device; smaller batteries or alternative power sources can be considered, and operating life can be extended. FRAM is not appropriate for every situation and there are some considerations to obtain the maximum benefit from its use. An MSP430FR2311 microcontroller is used to measure the performance of the FRAM and how to structure a program to achieve the lowest power consumption. Clock speed and instruction caching in particular have a large effect on the power consumption and tests are performed to quantify their effect. Two case studies are considered, a feedback control system and a data logger. Both cases involve large amounts of data writes and allow for the effects of the FRAM to be easily observed. Expected battery life is determined for each case when the sample rate is varied, suggesting that average operating current for the two solutions will nearly converge when the sampling period exceeds 1000 s. For sampling periods on the order of one second operating current can be reduced from 15.4 μA to 730 nA by utilizing FRAM in lieu of flash.