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I/O modules ease 802.11n adoption

Posted: 04 Jan 2010 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:802.11n? Wi-Fi? wireless connectivity? embedded systems?

Connect-io-n module

Redpine Signals Inc. has launched the Connect-io-n series of highly-integrated single-stream 802.11n Wi-Fi I/O modules that provides future-proof wireless connectivity for embedded systems, particularly those involved in connecting the Internet of Things. The technology offers self-contained single-stream 802.11n modules at a smaller size, lower cost and lower power than legacy 802.11b and 802.11g modules, thus paving the way for widespread adoption of the 802.11n standard.

The products include the RS9110-N-11-23, a self-contained 2.4GHz Wi-Fi client device with a standard serial or SPI interface to the MCU host; the RS9110-N-11-24, a fully contained 2.4GHz Wi-Fi client device with networking stack included; the RS9110-N-11-27, a dual-band 2.4/5GHz Wi-Fi client device with a standard serial or SPI interface to the MCU host; and the RS9110-N-11-28, a dual band 2.4/5GHz Wi-Fi client device with networking stack included.

Wireless connectivity for embedded devices is typically characterized by low throughput, low power consumption, and relaxed latency requirements. However, Wi-Fi embedded devices are seen in ever greater numbers in a variety of environments, many of which are 802.11n-based. Legacy 802.11b/g devices and 802.11b devices in particular, cause considerable disruption to an 11n network. First, they occupy the airways far longer to transmit a given amount of information than other nodes in the network. Second, they force the Access Pointand all nodes on the networkto adopt bandwidth-consuming protection mechanisms to accommodate the legacy device. The explosive growth in adoption of Wi-Fi into embedded devices has prompted major industry groups, such as the Wi-Fi Alliance, to start disallowing 802.11b devices in upcoming certification programs such as Wi-Fi Direct, the specification to support direct Wi-Fi connections between devices.

Redpine's modules are the first in the industry to bring single-stream 802.11n connectivity to standard 8bit MCUs. Aimed at plug-and-play integration of Wi-Fi into such platforms through an SPI or UART interface, these modules are available in software variants that can either provide a built-in TCP/IP stack or enable the use of the MCU's networking stack.

The Connect-io-n series is based on Redpine's mature Lite-Fi chipset, the industry's first Wi-Fi certified 802.11n single-stream device, which has been successfully integrated into a significant number of embedded systems over the past two years. Connect-io-n modules have best-in-class transmit power of 18dBm and receiver sensitivity down to -98dBm, enabling excellent range. With shutdown power of less than 0.01mW, associated mode power of less than 3mW and active operational power of less than 30mW (UART 115Kbaud), the Connect-io-n series enables ultralow-power wireless battery operated applications, such as wireless sensors, with battery life of greater than 10 years and update rates faster than once in 15 minutes.

The FCC/IC/CE certified module measures 11mm x 13mm, thus it is easily integrated into embedded systems. The Connect-io-n family is also the first in the industry to offer variants that support dual-band 2.4/5GHz band operation for serial-to-Wi-Fi applications that demand better reliability and QoS in crowded wireless environments.

"Our experience has shown that single-stream 802.11n always results in lower energy consumption, independent of the data rate at which a device communicates. The reason is that the 802.11n device is on air for a shorter time and hence uses up less network bandwidth and less energy per bit," said Venkat Mattela, CEO, Redpine. "Redpine's 802.11n Connect-io-n technology provides lower-cost, lower-power wireless connectivity to any device, with or without a TCP/IP stack. At the same time, it future-proofs the customer's investment into the wireless solution," he added.

The technology maturity of the Lite-Fi chipset and high levels of integration of the Connect-io-n modules enable Redpine to offer the modules at lower cost than competing legacy 11b or 11g modules. The Connect-io-n single-band (2.4GHz) modules are available now and are priced at less than $19 in volumes of more than 1,000 units. Evaluation kits are available for $195.

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