Low-power wireless MCUs gain options - Embedded.com

Low-power wireless MCUs gain options

NUREMBERG, Germany — Developers of battery-powered, wireless devices now have a host of new MCU choices to work with, thanks to a pair of product announcements made here at Embedded World. Both Silicon Labs and Texas Instruments (TI) have released MCUs with built-in wireless connectivity that target battery-powered and harvested-energy applications. All include a 32-bit Cortex M processor core with integrated RF stage, providing versions for a variety of standards, including sub-GHz, 6LoWPAN, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), and ZigBee.

The EZR32 family from Silicon Labs operates in sub-GHz frequency ranges for all geographic regions. The devices support IEEE 802.15.4/4g, Wireless M-Bus, Wi-SUN, and a broad range of proprietary radio protocols, and are available with a variety of transceiver choices to accommodate an array of RF performance requirements.

The family also provides a choice in processing performance. The EZR32LG devices have a Cortex M3 processor while the EZR32WG devices have an M4 core with floating point and DSP capabilities. Both product families include up to 32 kbytes of RAM, to256 kbytes of Flash, a variety of timer and counter peripherals, multiple serial interfaces (including USB), ADC, DAC, and AES encryption acceleration. They also have a low-energy sensor interface that can stay active while the MCU is in sleep mode so that the device does not miss any critical input changes while conserving battery power.

TI extended its SimpleLink portfolio, announcing an ultra-low power series that begins with the CC2640 for Bluetooth Smart, and the CC2630 for 6LoWPAN and ZigBee. There is also a multi-protocol version, the CC2650 for a range of 2.4 GHz technologies including Bluetooth Smart, 6LoWPAN, ZigBee and RF4CE. The roadmap also includes plans for devices supporting sub-GHz operation as well as a dedicated RF4CE.

A key feature of the new SimpleLink devices is their low power consumption. TI specifies an active current of less than 61 µA/MHz and standby current of 1.1 µA with full memory retention and the real-time clock (RTC) running. The radio's peak current is under 6.2 mA. A sensor controller that can remain active while the MCU is sleeping requires only 8.2 µA/MHz. The company estimates that designs based on these new devices could run for up to ten years on a single coin cell or be run without batteries using energy harvesting

To read more of this external content, go to “Low-Power Wireless MCUs Proliferate.”

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