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Free embedded processor benchmarks debut

Jun 8, 2009 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

The Embedded Microprocessor Benchmark Consortium (EEMBC) has released its first free, openly-available embedded systems benchmark. Based on EEMBC's various benchmarks targeting different embedded segments, CoreMark 1.0 offers a generic benchmark for processor cores that is more reliable than the Dhrystone test and less susceptible to manipulation, says the group.

The EEMBC doesn't use the words “open source,” but the CoreMark benchmark is said to be free for the download. The consortium started releasing benchmarks for the embedded industry in 1997. It has issued a wide variety of benchmarks targeting different industries and device types, and simulating real-world conditions. For example, back in 2003 it released a digital entertainment benchmark.

CoreMark is intended to replace “the once-useful-but-now-antiquated Dhrystone benchmark,” according to the group. CoreMark is billed as a “starting point” for measuring a processor's core performance and basic pipeline structure. Supported processors are said to range from 8-bit micro-controllers to 32-bit devices and architectures.

A hex on compiler voodoo

Like Dhrystone, CoreMark is said to be free, compact, and easily portable to most systems. Unlike Dhrystone, CoreMark is not susceptible to a compiler's ability to “optimize the work away,” claims the EEMBC. In addition, it does not use special libraries that can be artificially manipulated, and was designed not to make library calls from within the timed portion of the benchmark, says the group. Among other touted advantages over Dhrystone, CoreMark is said to be governed by consistent run and reporting rules enabling more reliable comparisons.

The CoreMark tests contain commonly used algorithms that deliver a “realistic mixture” of read/write, integer, and control operations, says the EEMBC. The algorithms are said to enable the testing of:

  • Matrix maniuplation
  • Linked-list manipulation to exercise the use of pointers
  • State machine operation (common use of data dependent branches)
  • Cyclic Redundancy Check (CRC)

The EEMBC has launched a new website for distributing source code and publishing scores. CoreMark users are encouraged to enter their scores and platform configurations, enabling users to quickly compare processors. A number of scores have already been posted, primarily for Intel processors (but not, so far, for the Intel Atom.) The site also includes a discussion group, as well as a blog section where EEMBC members can “provide more in-depth explanations and analysis relative to their CoreMark results,” says the EEMBC.

In addition to CoreMark's built-in self-verification software, the EEMBC Technology Center will offer score certification services on CoreMark for EEMBC members for additional “credibility,” says the group. In addition, an “EEMBC EnergyBench” version of CoreMark is available to EEMBC members, and can be licensed separately by non-members. EnergyBench measures the amount of energy a processor consumes during the benchmarks. Like all EEMBC benchmarks, CoreMark is defined by EEMBC members and is widely tested prior to release, says the EEMBC.

Stated Markus Levy, EEMBC president, “The accessibility of CoreMark will make it easier for embedded industry cohorts to challenge submitted scores.”


CoreMark 1.0 is available now for free download, says the EEMBC. More information may be found at the new CoreMark site, here.

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