Silicon Labs targets IoT with lowest power and smallest form factor wireless MCUs

December 13, 2013

Toni_McConnel-December 13, 2013

Silicon Labs has combined its ultra-low-power MCU technology with its sub-GHz EZRadio and EZRadioPRO transceivers in a single-chip solution, expanding its family of 8-bit Si10xx wireless microcontrollers (MCUs) with two new options optimized for both cost-sensitive and performance-intensive designs. The new Si106x and Si108x energy-friendly wireless MCUs achieve industry-leading RF performance with the lowest overall power consumption in their class. The Si106x and Si108x support worldwide frequency bands from 142 to 1050 MHz with low-power sleep and active modes for extended battery life, and address the low energy and RF connectivity requirements of home automation, security and access control, sensor networks, asset tracking and long-range control applications for the Internet of Things.


The Si106x and Si108x devices integrate an energy-efficient 8051 MCU and a sub-GHz RF transceiver into a 5 mm x 6 mm QFN package. This compact footprint makes the Si106x/8x wireless MCUs suitable for space-constrained applications that require wireless connectivity as well as ultra-low power for long battery life. The exceptional single-chip integration and small package help reduce system cost, design complexity, board size, and component count. The devices also feature a priority crossbar decoder that gives designers complete control over a variety of functions including a 10-bit analog-to-digital converter (ADC), dual comparators, four 16-bit timers as well as UART, SPI and 12C serial interfaces. This flexible crossbar configurability eliminates the tradeoffs that often must be made with small packages.

Si106x/8x wireless MCUs based on the EZRadio transceiver provide a cost-effective, high-value solution for the majority of embedded wireless designs. Other more demanding connected device applications can benefit from the higher wireless performance offered by the Si106x/8x devices containing the EZRadioPRO transceiver, which offers greater sensitivity (-126 dBm) and higher output power (+20 dBm) for longer-range applications. The EZRadioPRO transceiver’s resulting 146 dB link budget maximizes wireless range, and its 60 dB adjacent channel selectivity with 12.5 kHz channel spacing ensures robust operation in harsh RF conditions. The EZRadioPRO transceiver is designed to comply with the industry’s most stringent wireless standards including FCC, ETSI and ARIB, while offering frequency coverage in all major bands up to 1050 MHz and supporting data rates from 100 bps to 1 Mbps.

Both wireless MCU family options feature ultra-low power consumption when the radio is active, 18 mA when transmitting at +10 dBm and 10.7 mA in low-power receive mode. Low power modes enable dramatically reduced power consumption when the radio is idle or off: 30 nA shutdown, 50 nA standby and 600 nA in sleep mode. Built-in dc-dc boost support allows operation down to 0.9 V for single-cell battery operation, which reduces system cost while extending the life of battery-powered products.

The Si106x/8x wireless MCU family supports a range of device configurations including a choice of cost-effective EZRadio and high-performance EZRadioPRO transceivers, flash memory scaling from 8 to 64 kB, and 768 bytes to 4 kB of RAM. Additionally, wireless MCU devices are available with +13 dBm or +20 dBm maximum output power.

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