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Open AccessArticle

RESTOP: Retaining External Peripheral State in Intermittently-Powered Sensor Systems

Department of Electronics and Computer Science, University of Southampton, Southampton SO 17 1BJ, UK
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sensors 2018, 18(1), 172;
Received: 10 November 2017 / Revised: 4 January 2018 / Accepted: 5 January 2018 / Published: 10 January 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Low Power Embedded Sensing: Hardware-Software Design and Applications)
Energy harvesting sensor systems typically incorporate energy buffers (e.g., rechargeable batteries and supercapacitors) to accommodate fluctuations in supply. However, the presence of these elements limits the miniaturization of devices. In recent years, researchers have proposed a new paradigm, transient computing, where systems operate directly from the energy harvesting source and allow computation to span across power cycles, without adding energy buffers. Various transient computing approaches have addressed the challenge of power intermittency by retaining the processor’s state using non-volatile memory. However, no generic approach has yet been proposed to retain the state of peripherals external to the processing element. This paper proposes RESTOP, flexible middleware which retains the state of multiple external peripherals that are connected to a computing element (i.e., a microcontroller) through protocols such as SPI or I 2 C. RESTOP acts as an interface between the main application and the peripheral, which keeps a record, at run-time, of the transmitted data in order to restore peripheral configuration after a power interruption. RESTOP is practically implemented and validated using three digitally interfaced peripherals, successfully restoring their configuration after power interruptions, imposing a maximum time overhead of 15% when configuring a peripheral. However, this represents an overhead of only 0.82% during complete execution of our typical sensing application, which is substantially lower than existing approaches. View Full-Text
Keywords: energy harvesting; external peripheral; sensor system; transient computing energy harvesting; external peripheral; sensor system; transient computing
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Rodriguez Arreola, A.; Balsamo, D.; Merrett, G.V.; Weddell, A.S. RESTOP: Retaining External Peripheral State in Intermittently-Powered Sensor Systems. Sensors 2018, 18, 172.

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