A heterogeneous system architecture for low-power wireless sensor nodes in compute-intensive distributed applications
Distributed structural health monitoring (SHM) using wireless sensor nodes (WSN) requires frugal spending of the limited energy budget. We propose a reconfigurable heterogeneous architecture, combining a low-power micro-controller (MCU) with a Field-Programmable Gate Array (FPGA), as a means for energy-efficient in-sensor processing. Details covered include a generic communication interface between both computing units and several clock-management schemes for energy efficiency. We evaluate the architecture on the use-case of a Random Decrement (RD) algorithm and also consider additional pre-filtering to reduce the volume of wirelessly transmitted data. Compared to conventional low-power sensor nodes, we can reduce the energy required for data processing by up to 81%.