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Controller drives energy harvesting to wireless nets

Posted: 25 Jun 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:energy harvesting? communications controller chip? wireless sensor networks?

GreenPeak Technologies has introduced the Emerald GP500C communications controller chip for ultralow-power wireless sensor networks. The company claims the Emerald GP500C is the only IEEE 802.15.4 standard compliant chip available with ultralow-power features that enable energy harvesting solutions for wireless sensor networks.

The Emerald GP500C incorporates a transceiver with a fully integrated communications layer and an on-chip energy manager. Unlike other solutions on the market, the Emerald GP500C device is an "autonomous transceiver" able to drive and control the data communication instead of being driven by a MCU, GreenPeak said. By greatly reducing energy consumption, this architectural concept enables end nodes to run on energy harvesting devices and to be truly wireless, free of power cords and free of batteries, GreenPeak said.

The Emerald GP500C only consumes a fraction (10-25 percent) of the energy of traditional MCU-based designs (depending on the usage profile) by using a lower peak current, an ultralow leakage current, and very short transmission times via just-in-time transmission scheduling. The low energy consumption allows developers to build sensor systems with a peak current of about 20mA2x lower than typicaland a system sleep mode of below 100nA10x less than typicalwithout compromising the network reliability, GreenPeak said.

In addition, GreenPeak's radio is said to create highly reliable communication over a significant indoor range (30-50m, 100-150ft) because it utilizes embedded hardware-based antenna diversity that reduces dead spots. The Emerald includes other link reliability features such as message-over-message enabling, excellent sensitivity, signal processing engine and interference detection and avoidance mechanisms.

The Emerald GP500C is delivered with a reference design and development kit that allows OEMs to build their own communication modules and applications. The GP500C supports a wide range of software stacks that can run on different processors including Zigbee Pro as well as low power routing, low power sensing, a micro stack and other application-dedicated low power protocols.

Pricing starts below $2 for high volumes (>1M per year). Devices are now sampling to large customers.

- Gina Roos

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