Power optimization recommendations
Nordic System-on-Chip (SoC) designs are aimed at ease of use and ultra-low power consumption. However, working on a final design might require fine-tuning some areas of your application.
This section describe general recommendations for reducing power consumption of your application. These recommendations are valid regardless of the SoC you are using.
See also the documentation for the Zephyr RTOS Power Management subsystem. The subsystem provides interfaces and APIs that enable power management implementations for different SoCs and architectures.
A power-optimized development ecosystem typically consists of the following developer tools:
nRF Connect SDK
Power Profiler Kit II is a flexible, low-cost tool that you can use for real-time power measurement of your design. You can measure power on a connected development kit or any external board.
Together, these tools provide a unified solution for developers to evaluate, develop and characterize ultra-low power designs with ease. See Installation and Configuration and building for more information about the nRF Connect SDK and its development environment.
Current measurements on devices that have the nRF Connect SDK samples or applications programmed with the default configuration, might show elevated current values, when compared to the expected current values from Nordic ultra-low power SoCs. It is because most of the samples and applications in the nRF Connect SDK are configured to perform logging over serial port (associated with UART(E) peripheral) by default.
As an example, the image below shows the power measurement output on Power Profiler Kit II for an nRF9160 DK with the Blinky sample compiled for the
nrf9160dk_nrf9160_ns build target without modifications in the sample configuration.
The average current is close to 470 µA, which drains a 500 mAh lithium polymer battery approximately in six weeks. To reduce current consumption, disable serial logging.
To disable serial output, you must change the project configuration associated with the sample or application. See Configuring your application for information about how to permanently or temporarily change the configuration.
For the build target with NSPE (
nrf9160dk_nrf9160_ns), ensure that serial logging is also disabled in Trusted Firmware-M by setting
The output on Power Profiler Kit II shows the power consumption on an nRF9160 DK with the sample compiled for the
nrf9160dk_nrf9160_ns build target with
The average current reduces to 6 µA, which implies 9.5 years of battery life on a 500 mAh lithium polymer battery compared to the 6-week battery life of the previous measurement.
For a similar configuration, see the Cellular: UDP sample, which transmits UDP packets to an LTE network using an nRF9160 DK.
You can use the sample to characterize the current consumption of the nRF9160 SiP.
It is optimized for low power operation on the
nrf9160dk_nrf9160_ns build target without any modifications.
Peripherals other than the serial ports can also cause elevated currents.
The power management of the Nordic SoCs automatically switches in and out the resources that are needed by the active peripherals. Peripherals that need a high frequency clock like UART, PWM, PDM or high frequency timers will show similar currents if enabled.
You can check the current consumption in peripherals for the SoC you are using in the “Power and clock management” section of the Product Specification for your SoC on Nordic Semiconductor Infocenter. For example, for the nRF9160 SiP, see the Electrical specification of nRF9160 page.
Be careful with the use of pull-up resistors when designing the hardware for ultra-low power operation.
An I/O pin with a 10 kΩ pull-up resistor that is set to
GND will result in a current consumption of 300 µA at 3V.
Some of the pins and peripherals are enabled by default for some boards. Depending on the peripheral or the pin type, they can increase the device power consumption to a different extent. If the application does not use them, make sure they are disabled.
To disable a particular peripheral, set its state in the board’s devicetree overlay to
For example, for ADC:
status = "disabled";
The Device Power Management module provides an interface that the device drivers use to be informed about entering the suspend state or resuming from the suspend state. This allows the device drivers to do any necessary power management operations, such as turning off device clocks and peripherals, which lowers the power consumption.
To enable suspending peripherals when the CPU goes to sleep, set the
CONFIG_PM_DEVICE Kconfig option to
When the CPU goes to sleep, some of the peripherals are suspended by their drivers. However, the driver is not always able to know the application behavior and handle the peripheral state optimally.
One such case is the external flash usage by the applications. It is very rarely used, and only for the Device Firmware Upgrade purposes. For this reason, you might want to suspend the external flash for the majority of the time and have it in active state only if needed. The state change for the Device Firmware Upgrade case is handled in the nRF Connect SDK, but for other proprietary use cases, you should handle state changes in your own implementation.
For example, to control the QSPI NOR external flash, you can use the following implementation:
const auto * qspi_dev = DEVICE_DT_GET(DT_INST(0, nordic_qspi_nor));
// Put the peripheral into suspended state.
// Resume the peripheral from the suspended state.
Optimizing the memory footprint of your application can reduce the amount of RAM used, but unused RAM still consumes power. You can power down this unused RAM to reduce the power consumption of your application. In the nRF Connect SDK, you can use the RAM power-down library for this purpose.
The radio transmitter power (radio TX power) has a significant impact on the device power consumption. The higher the transmitter power, the greater the wireless communication range, but it also leads to higher power consumption. Make sure to choose the optimal configuration for your specific use case.
Besides applying General recommendations, read the following subsections for more information on how to optimize specific subsystems.
The Bluetooth mesh protocol offers the Low Power node (LPN) feature for optimizing the power consumption of the Bluetooth mesh devices.
To optimize the power consumption of your Matter application, complete the actions listed on the Reducing power consumption in Matter page.
The Thread protocol offers Sleepy End Device types for optimizing the power consumption of the Thread devices. Sleepy End Devices try to limit their power consumption by sleeping most of the time.
The Thread: CLI sample can be used to perform power consumption measurements when configured following some of the general recommendations. See the Power consumption measurements section of the sample documentation for more information.
The Wi-Fi protocol introduces the power save mechanism that allows the Station (STA) device to spend the majority of the time in a sleep state and wake up periodically to check for pending traffic. For more information about the Wi-Fi power save mechanism, see the Wi-Fi MAC layer documentation.
To enable the Wi-Fi power save mode, set the
CONFIG_NRF_WIFI_LOW_POWER Kconfig option to
See Operating in power save modes for more information about the power save modes.