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Microchip unveils new offerings for Zigbee

Posted: 26 Jan 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Zigbee? transceiver? 802.15.4? Microchip? MiWi?

ZENA wireless network analyzer from Microchip

Microchip Technology Inc. has announced three new offerings for IEEE 802.15.4 wireless networking.

The company's first RF transceiver, the MRF24J40, is a 2.4GHz transceiver targeted for the Zigbee protocoland proprietary wireless protocolsin RF applications requiring low power and high RF performance. The ZENA wireless network analyzer tool further enables development of Zigbee protocol systems using Microchip semiconductors. The MiWi protocol is a free, small-footprint protocol developed by Microchip for customers who do not need Zigbee protocol interoperability but want to use 802.15.4 transceivers in low-cost peer-to-peer, star and mesh networks. The company said its MiWi protocol provides the lowest-cost fully functional network protocol for 802.15.4 transceivers.

According to Microchip, it is addressing the needs of the Zigbee market with the only zero-cost-license and royalty-free Zigbee protocol stack, which is one of the smallest in the industry and provides a source-code format that allows designers to customize their product using the company's compatible PIC MCUs. The MRF24J40 transceiver completes Microchip's Zigbee protocol platform.

"Microchip's MRF24J40 IEEE 802.15.4 transceiver can be combined with roughly 200 8bit and 16bit PIC MCUs and dsPIC DSCs, to provide the most cost-optimized wireless networking solutions," said Ganesh Moorthy, Microchip's executive VP. "In combination with our free Zigbee protocol stack, Microchip now offers a complete solution for one of the fastest growing technology market segments."

As the Zigbee protocol grows too large and complex for many applications, a large percentage of the market for 802.15.4 wireless personal area networking is likely to use alternative, proprietary protocols such as the MiWi. Additionally, Zigbee protocol certification is costly for small- and medium-size companies. MiWi provides a simpler, lower-cost solution for customers who do not need interoperability but still want to use 802.15.4 radios. No certification is required for MiWi protocol systems, and the protocol stack is provided under a free license, when the combination of Microchip's MCUs and MRF24J40 transceiver is used.

Development tools
The new ZENA wireless network analyzer tool (DM183023) uses a simple graphical interface to configure the free Microchip Zigbee and MiWi protocol stacks. This enables customers to reduce the code size of the stacks by removing optional features; cuts development time by simplifying the interactions with the stacks; and allows customization of the stack to fit a particular need.

Consisting of both hardware and software, the ZENA is an 802.15.4 protocol analyzer that is capable of decoding Zigbee and MiWi protocol packetsfrom the lowest layers to the top of the stack (including the security modules). The network-configuration display window allows users to see the traffic in real time as it travels from one node to another. A session can also be saved to a file to allow further analysis of all the network traffic.

The MRF24J40 transceiver is available today for sampling with production planned for December.

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