Broadcom moves into sensor hubs with combo chip - Embedded.com

Broadcom moves into sensor hubs with combo chip

Broadcom Corporation   has just taken the wraps off what it is calling the industry's first low-power Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) and sensor hub combo chip.

Designed to deliver new always-on location applications for a full range of mobile devices, the company's BCM4773 minimizes battery drain and adds a new layer of intelligence to location technology on mobile devices by integrating the GNSS chip and sensor hub into a single combo chip.

According to Mohamed Awad, Broadcom Director, Wireless connectivity, the device incorporates an architecture that enables information from Wi-Fi, Bluetooth Smart, GPS and micro electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) to be calculated on a single system-on-chip (SoC) instead of the application processor (AP).

“This unique design drives more than 80 percent power savings by offloading from the AP and lowers cost by reducing board area by 34 percent,” he said.

The combo chip, said Awad, brings more intelligence to context awareness by integrating GNSS and providing a direct connection to the Wi-Fi combo chip.

“This allows a mobile device to know where a user is and what the user is doing to further personalize the experience,” he said. “For example, a BCM4773-based smartphone can use information from Wi-Fi, Bluetooth Smart, GPS and MEMS to recognize when a runner is outdoors versus inside on a treadmill and dynamically manage these technologies to save battery life and optimize the user experience, all without involving the main AP. “

Optimized for hardware offload of sensor fusion, on-chip positioning, geofencing and location batching, the BCM4773 makes possible the design of systems with a 34 percent board area reduction by integrating GNSS receiver and sensor hub.

It uses a standalone microcontroller to offload fusing of sensor data from the AP to maximize power savings and provides concurrent support for five different satellite systems, including GPS, GLONASS, SBAS, QZSS and BeiDou.

On-chip Wi-Fi positioning logic uses a direct connect communication protocol to the Wi-Fi SoC. It also supports batching for all devices connected to the Location Hub, including Wi-Fi, MEMS and GNSS.

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