In industrial and home automation systems there is frequently a need for multiple wireless networks to be at work concurrently. Freescale's new MCR20AVHM transceiver meets that need for users of Thread, Zigbee, or proprietary mesh networking in the 2.4 GHz band. The device features a two-antenna diversity design able to switch between networks without losing data packets.
Unlike many wireless offerings coming out for the Internet of Things (IoT), the MCR20AVHM does not integrate a microcontroller; it is strictly a radio transceiver. “The functions at different IoT nodes are different,” said Freescale's director of connectivity products Emmanual Sambuis in an interview with EE Times, “and the MCUs they use need to have different capabilities. Designers need a flexible implementation, so we've kept the MCU and radio separate.”
The radio is designed for battery operation, the transmitter using only 17 mA at 0 dBm, and receiver using 19 mA. A receiver sensitivity of -102 dBm helps extend the range of IoT nodes with minimal transmit power. “For battery operation it's better to listen well than to shout loudly,” Sambuis noted. When additional transmit power is needed, however, the transceiver can be programmed to deliver as much as 8 dBm.
The transceiver provides a MAC controller along with the RF PHY. Included within the MAC controller are an AES hardware encryption engine and a true random number generator to support secure communications throughout the network. The device also includes an SPI MCU interface optimized for the Kinetis series of microcontrollers, especially the KL46 and K64F families, supporting burst transfers. The existing Kinetis SDK already includes wireless protocol software as well as a compliant IEEE 802.15.4-2011 PHY-MAC implementation.
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