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Multiprotocol wireless SoCs streamline IoT connectivity

Posted: 01 Mar 2016 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Silicon Labs? SoC? wireless? Bluetooth Smart? IoT?

Silicon Labs has rolled out its Wireless Gecko line-up of multiprotocol SoC devices that promises to deliver flexible connectivity and price/performance options for Internet of Things (IoT) devices. The Wireless Gecko SoCs integrate a powerful ARM Cortex-M4 core, energy-friendly Gecko technology, a 2.4GHz radio with up to 19.5dBm output power, and advanced hardware cryptography, detailed the company.

Wireless Gecko SoCs speed wireless design with best-of-breed Thread and ZigBee stacks for mesh networks, intuitive radio interface software for proprietary protocols, Bluetooth Smart for point-to-point connectivity, and Simplicity Studio tools to simplify wireless development, configuration, debugging and low-energy design.

The Wireless Gecko portfolio features three families of multiprotocol SoCs optimised for real-world IoT use cases and the most popular wireless protocols: Blue Gecko familyBluetooth Smart connectivity with remarkable output power and range; Mighty Gecko familyNotable ZigBee and Thread connectivity for mesh networks; and Flex Gecko familyFlexible proprietary wireless protocol options for diverse applications.

Silicon Labs' pin- and software-compatible Wireless Gecko families enable customers to leverage their development tool and software investments. Developers can select the wireless protocol to meet their application needs today and can easily migrate to other protocols within the portfolio with the assurance of hardware/software reuse.

Wireless Gecko SoCs combine Silicon Labs' energy-friendly Gecko MCU technology with a multiprotocol 2.4GHz RF transceiver in a single-die solution with scalable memory options (up to 256Kbytes flash and up to 32Kbytes RAM). Hallmarks of Gecko technology include well-architected energy modes, ultra-fast wake-up/sleep transitions and the peripheral reflex system (PRS), enabling autonomous operation of low-power peripherals while the MCU core sleeps. Based on an ARM Cortex-M4 processor with powerful floating point and DSP capabilities, the Gecko MCU consumes only 63A/MHz in active mode. The Wireless Gecko SoCs also integrate a software-programmable power amplifier (PA) and balun to reduce BOM cost and design complexity while providing scalable output power ranging from -30dBm up to 19.5dBm for applications requiring long-range connectivity.

Mighty Gecko

Further enhancing energy efficiency and application code footprint, Wireless Gecko SoCs feature a built-in hardware cryptographic accelerator providing fast, energy-efficient autonomous encryption and decryption of Internet security protocols such as TLS/SSL with minimal CPU intervention. The on-chip accelerator supports advanced algorithms such as AES with 128bit or 256bit keys, elliptical curve cryptography (ECC), SHA-1 and SHA-224/256. Hardware cryptography enables developers to meet evolving IoT security requirements more efficiently than with software-only techniques required by competing solutions.

The Wireless Gecko SoC portfolio is supported by Silicon Labs' Simplicity Studio development platform, a unified environment for concurrent MCU and RF design. Simplicity Studio tools include AppBuilder, allowing developers to easily configure wireless applications while ensuring software reuse across Wireless Gecko SoC-based designs; desktop network analyser, providing full visibility and debugging of wireless networking activity by using the SoC's packet trace port; and Energy Profiler, enabling developers to minimise the energy consumption of their code and extend battery life.

Engineering samples for Wireless Gecko SoCs are available in 5mm x 5mm QFN32 and 7mm x 7mm QFN48 packages; production parts are planned for 2Q16. Pricing in 100,000-unit quantities begins at $2.11 for Mighty Gecko SoCs; $2.06 for Flex Gecko SoCs; and $0.99 for Blue Gecko SoCs. The full-featured SLWSTK6000A Mighty Gecko Mesh Development Kit, supporting ZigBee, Thread, Bluetooth Smart and proprietary protocols, is priced at $499. The SLWSTK6066A Flex Gecko Proprietary Starter Kit is priced at $229. The SLWSTK6020A Blue Gecko Starter Kit is priced at $99.

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