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Cypress joins ranks of vendors selling MCUs with BLE

Posted: 12 Nov 2014 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:IoT? Bluetooth? microcontroller? PSoC 4 BLE?

Cypress Semiconductor CEO T.J. Rodgers is an IoT sceptic no more. He is, in fact, leading his company's jump on to the bandwagon of connected devices as he revealed new PSoC microcontrollers supporting Bluetooth Low Energy and a $9 node for what he calls the Internet of Plants.

Cypress officially joins the ranks of vendors selling MCUs with integrated Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) radios. Cypress has on its roadmap plans for a 65-cent chip to add capacitive touch sensing to an embedded system. And Rodgers, who runs a vineyard in his spare time, has conceived a $9 node for what he calls the Internet of Plants.

The new PSoC 4 BLE and PRoC BLE chips announced at Electronica combine a 32bit ARM Cortex M0 controller with a Bluetooth Smart radio developed at Cypress along with a bevy of peripherals. The chips include a BLE software stack from Mindtree.

Cypress Semiconductor CEO T.J. Rodgers

Rodgers: I'd love to tell you I had the grand vision for IoT, but the truth is we just backed into it.

Cypress is not the first to marry a micro and Bluetooth. "We're behind Nordic Semiconductor that's been out there for eight quarters, and Texas Instruments has been out there a while... but the BLE market is not there yet anyway," says Rodgers.

[See also: MCU-Bluetooth design: Making smartwatch talk to IoT devices]

Ultimately, millions of remote controls will upgrade from infrared to Bluetooth, Rodgers and many others have long believed. The shift enables couch potatoes to switch channels without needing to hit a pesky line-of-sight target, and BLE should enable remotes that run a year or two before they need to change batteries.

The latest Bluetooth products are already in the hands of 24 Cypress customers. They are the latest members of the company's Programmable Systems on Chip (PSoC) line, Cypress's value-added entry in the hotly competitive microcontroller sector.

PSoC is a $300 million a year market now that Rodgers hopes he can grow into a billion-dollar business in the next four or five years. Shaving costs is one key to growth.

"We've not grown the touch-screen PSoC business the way I would have liked," Rodgers says. "We believe that's about to change with a couple new parts that address the issues that have held us back, making a touch-screen chip for 65 cents. We've gotten silicon content down to where we can play at that level."

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