Simulating the Power Consumption of Large-Scale Sensor Network Applications

Developing sensor network applications demands a new set of tools to aid programmers. A number of simulation environments have been developed that provide varying degrees of scalability, realism, and detail for understanding the behavior of sensor networks. To date, however, none of these tools have addressed one of the most important aspects of sensor application design: that of power consumption. While simple approximations of overall power usage can be derived from estimates of node duty cycle and communication rates, these techniques often fail to capture the detailed, low-level energy requirements of the CPU, radio, sensors, and other peripherals.

In this paper, we present PowerTOSSIM, a scalable simulation environment for wireless sensor networks that provides an accurate, per-node estimate of power consumption. PowerTOSSIM is an extension to TOSSIM, an event-driven simulation environment for TinyOS applications. In PowerTOSSIM, TinyOS components corresponding to specific hardware peripherals (such as the radio, EEPROM, LEDs, and so forth) are instrumented to obtain a trace of each device’s activity during the simulation run. PowerTOSSIM employs a novel code-transformation technique to estimate the number of CPU cycles executed by each node, eliminating the need for expensive instruction-level simulation of sensor nodes. PowerTOSSIM includes a detailed model of hardware energy consumption based on the Mica2 sensor node platform. Through instrumentation of actual sensor nodes, we demonstrate that PowerTOSSIM provides accurate estimation of power consumption for a range of applications and scales to support very large simulations.