Power profiling and power optimization of embedded solutions

Written by Glyn High Tech

December 9, 2020

The Power Profiler Kit II (PPK2) is a standalone unit, which can measure and optionally supply currents all the way from sub-uA and as high as 1A on all Nordic DKs, in addition to external hardware.

The PPK2 is powered via a standard 5V USB cable, which can supply up to 500mA of current. In order to supply up to 1A of current, two USB cables are required.

An ampere meter only mode, as well as a source mode (shown as AMP and source measure unit (SMU) respectively on the PCB) are supported. For the ampere meter mode, an external power supply must source VCC levels between 0.8 and 5V to the device under test (DUT). For the source mode, the PPK2 supplies VCC levels between 0.8 and 5V and the on-board regulator supplies up to 1A of current to external applications. It is possible to measure low sleep currents, the higher active currents, as well as short current peaks on all Nordic DKs, in addition to external hardware.

This provides support for both short range applications on our nRF51, nRF52 and nRF53 Series, in addition to our nRF91 Series cellular SiP with headroom to spare for additional circuit draw, e.g. an nRF9160 DK with attached sensors.

The PPK2 has an advanced analog measurement unit with a high dynamic measurement range. This allows accurate power consumption measurements for the entire range typically seen in low-power embedded applications, all the way from single μAs to 1A. The resolution varies between 100nA and 1mA depending on the measurement range and is high enough to detect small spikes as often seen in low power optimized systems.

The PPK2 can also use digital inputs as a low-end logic analyzer, enabling code-synchronized measurements. This can be achieved by connecting the digital inputs to an I/O pin on the external device under test (DUT). In order to use this functionality, the DUT must be powered by a VCC voltage of 1.6-5.5V. The digital input can then show what code is executed in the DUT at different points in time.

10x quicker sampling (i.e. 100ksps) compared with the long term window of the previous generation enables maximum continuous resolution at all times. This enables a user to gather average acquisition data and zoom in for high resolution data using the same window.

The PC software is a separate Power Profiler app running in the nRF Connect for Desktop framework. This app supports both the original PPK, as well as the PPK2. With the PPK2, the Power Profiler app can show both average acquisition times and high-resolution events in the same window. Measured data can be exported for post processing.

The Online Power Profiler (OPP) is a tool that estimates current consumption values for Bluetooth Low Energy, LTE-M and NB-IoT protocols via lab-testing. To see how the OPP can complement the PPK2 in development on the nRF9160 DK, see the Power Optimization documentation.


  • 200nA to 1A measurement range
  • Resolution varies between 100nA and 1mA depending on the measurement range
  • Support for all Nordic DKs, in addition to custom HW
  • Ampere meter and source modes
  • 10x quicker sampling (100ksps) vs previous generation
  • Standalone unit0.8 – 5V VCC levels
  • 8 digital inputs enables low-end logic analyzer support
  • Power Profiler app in nRF Connect for Desktop


Interested? Email us at [email protected]

Information extracted from nordicsemi.com (link)

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