Multi-band wireless SoCs offers multi-protocol operation
Believed to be the industry’s first multi-band, multi-protocol wireless SoC for the IoT, Silicon Labs has announced multi-band Wireless Gecko SoCs. They allow developers to use the same multi-protocol device for operation in 2.4GHz and multiple sub-GHz bands. This, claims the company, simplifies connected device designs, reduces cost and complexity, and speeds time to market. The SoCs can be used in building and home automation, smart metering, security, health and fitness monitoring, connected lighting, electronic shelf labels and asset tracking.
They are designed to support standards-based and proprietary 2.4GHz protocols for short-range connectivity and proprietary sub-GHz protocols for long-range connectivity. A single hardware design can support multiple connectivity scenarios based on the firmware/software running on the SoC. Developers can work with one set of software tools while supporting proprietary stacks and standard protocols such as ZigBee, Thread and Bluetooth Low Energy. For future-proofing, next-generation connected device products can embed a combination of protocols such as Bluetooth to commission and configure devices with a smartphone or tablet and sub-GHz protocols to communicate over long-range star networks.
There are three families. The Mighty Gecko family is one. It supports ZigBee, Thread and Bluetooth low energy connectivity at 2.4GHz and proprietary protocols in both 2.4GHz and sub-GHz bands. The second is the Blue Gecko family, which supports Bluetooth Low Energy connectivity at 2.4GHz and proprietary protocols in both 2.4GHz and sub-GHz bands. Finally, the Flex Gecko supports flexible proprietary wireless protocols in 2.4GHz and sub-GHz bands for diverse applications
The company offers certified, ZigBee, Thread and Bluetooth Low Energy stacks for 2.4GHz connectivity use cases, as well as new wireless software for proprietary wireless networks. Its radio abstraction interface layer (RAIL) software is claimed to ease the complexity of proprietary development by simplifying radio configuration and enabling developers to migrate application code across all Wireless Gecko SoCs.
The Connect stack wireless networking software is for proprietary applications. The IEEE 802.15.4-based stack supports sub-GHz and 2.4GHz frequency bands and regulatory compliance across geographic regions. It is optimized for low-power devices, abstracts low-level details of network formation and radio configuration, enabling developers to focus on applications. It provides software portability across devices and platforms, allows developers to customise stack features. Sample applications are included. The Connect stack supports reliable point-to-point, star and extended star network topologies; many combinations of radio modulation, frequencies and data rates; all MAC layer functions such as scanning, network forming and joining; multiple devices types; and encryption and authentication of data packets.
Samples of the SoCs are available now in 5.0 x 5.0mm QFN32 and 7.0 x 7.0mm QFN48 packages. Production quantities are planned for Q3 2016.