Archive for June, 2011
Guest Blog by Will Strauss, President & Principal Analyst, Forward Concepts
New LTE Handsets Take Different Modem Tacks
There’s no question that HTC’s Thunderbolt LTE/CDMA handset for Verizon’s LTE network has been a hit. That, of course, followed the Samsung Craft fielded on the MetroPCS network. The Thunderbolt employs two Qualcomm modems while the Craft employs an LTE modem from Samsung and a Qualcomm CDMA modem. Note that Verizon’s LTE network is data-only, so CDMA is also required to handle voice (and 3G fallback, if properly implemented).
The two latest Verizon LTE handsets employ different modem pairings. The LG Revolution LTE phone employs GCT’s LTE modem (listed as the LG L2000, since it employ’s LGE’s LTE stack), and Qualcomm’s MSM8655 Snapdragon for CDMA and Application Processor implementation. The new Samsung Droid Charge totally departs from Qualcomm, employing Samsung’s LTE modem and Via Telecom’s CDMA modem. This presents a “breakout” for San Diego-based Via Telecom, whose baseband chips have been only evident in China handsets and some entry-level CDMA-1x handsets in the U.S. Now, Via Telecom, as Qualcomm’s only CDMA baseband competitor, will get more respect, and likely more sockets.
Neul Opens Whitespace Market with First Product
Cambridge U.K.-based Neul has launched NeulNET, the first production wireless radio system that is designed to use free, white space spectrum, formerly occupied by analog TV. NeulNET is targeting machine-to-machine (M2M) communications, local broadband delivery, smart meter communications, and more. There is up to 150MHz of high quality white space spectrum available and it’s free. However, to use white space systems must meet very stringent technical specifications to prevent interference with digital television equipment and wireless microphones. The company claims NeulNET to be the first wireless system to meet these conditions, including the FCC’s challenging adjacent channel power specification. The NeulNET system, which includes a basestation unit and portable battery-powered terminal, makes it easy to create white space networks that deliver up to 16Mbps per available white space channel at a range of up to 10km. The NeulNET system is available to order now. BTW: Neul was started by the founders of Cambridge Silicon Radio (now CSR plc), so they aren’t amateurs stumbling into a brave new world.
What Goes “Zoosh” and Plays Mobile Wallet?
Tired of waiting for NFC to kick in for mobile payments? Zoosh™ is the trade name for a new mobile payments technology that is being fielded in the next 30 days by a new Silicon Valley company, Narette, Inc. (rhymes with “karate”). Rather than waiting for NFC standards or the required point-of-sale (POS) infrastructure to kick in, one can employ the new technology which simply employs an audio communications link from the speaker of the handset to the microphone of the other device, employing ultrasound technology. Besides Norette’s proprietary software, MP3 playback capability is the only technical requirement for the acoustic baseband solution. A unique and perishable transaction ID is created for every Zoosh. Besides cellphone-to-POS transactions, Narette is planning for social networking and machine commerce applications as well.
Freescale Shines in San Antonio
Last week, Freescale Semiconductor held its annual Freescale Technology Forum (FTF) at the new JW Marriott Hotel in San Antonio, Texas. Of course, Freescale was showing off its new products, like working silicon of its new quad-core i.MX6 applications processor based on ARM’s Cortex-A15 core. But it also exposed the 2,000+ attendees to the company’s ecosystem and supporter’s products. Freescale grew its overall market share last year, and this event was a clear sign that the company is in it for the long haul.
TI Gets Small
Although it’s well known that Texas Instruments will exit the handset baseband business about the end of 2012 (or when its Nokia baseband contract runs out), it has continued growing its market-leading macro base station DSP business. Now, TI has begun renewed emphasis on silicon for smaller base stations, including femtocells and picocells. Not only with its new family of powerful DSP+ARM SoC’s (TCI6612/14), but also paired with wireless application specific libraries and a portfolio of complementary analog products such as data converters, RF products, power management, clocks and amplifiers, absorbing more of the small base station ecosystem. Although TI has already been shipping its DSP chips to several femtocell vendors, we believe that most have been earlier “off-the-shelf” DSP chips rather than new small-cell-specific devices. TI got more respect in the field last month when U.K. femtocell firm Ubiquisys Ltd. announced that it had chosen TI to supply silicon for a new range of 3G and future 3G/LTE enterprise femtocells and metro small cells. Ubiquisys will continue using Broadcom/Percello processors in its residential femtocells.
TI likes to bill itself variously as an “analog” company or an “embedded processing” company (depending who you’re talking to at TI). The embedded terminology now encompasses any electronic “squirrel cage” and analog mix the company can conjure up. I guess this fits the definition.
Neglected in Colorado?
For the many electronics firms in Colorado, you now have a voice. The new Colorado Silicon Network aims to be a new link between your company and the rest of the world. With partnerships with like-minded international organizations already established with France and the U.K., the Network aims to help members develop valuable international academic and business relationships. Check it out (http://coloradosilicon.net/).
Focus on Smartphones Overlooks the Big Low-Cost Phone Market
While we observe glowing (and in some cases, unbelievable) market analysts’ predictions of smartphone shipments in 2011 and beyond, the press seems to ignore the significant market for low-cost phones popular in the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India & China). Certainly, Qualcomm sees the low-cost business as a great opportunity, as one Chinese language source indicated that the chip company’s upcoming 40nm chips would bring cellular chip solutions down some 30%, undercutting MediaTek’s dominance in the China handset market. Because of that, Deutsche Securities in Taipei has recommended a sell rating on shares of MediaTek and a hold rating on MStar. Our own analysis (see below) is that low-cost phones (consisting of budget and mid-range handsets) constitute almost 60% of the cellphone unit shipments this year. Note that Nokia currently dominates this market segment, a fact that is drowned out by reports of its diminishing smartphone market share.
Smartphone Growth Strong–Cannibalizing Feature Phones
- As smartphones continue taking an increasing share of the handset market, mostly at the expense of feature phones because smartphone prices have become more attractive. And ultra-low-cost phones for developing countries are also growing as fast as smartphones.
- Overall cellular handset shipments for 2011 are predicted to grow a more moderate 5% to 1.5 billion units, following a healthy 12% growth in 2010.
- One shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that cellphone LCD displays constituted $16 billion of the 2010 component market, making them the most expensive segment of the $55 billion cellphone component market.
- Although baseband chips constitute the largest non-memory cellphone chip market at $12.7 billion for 2010, There are other billion-dollar-plus cellphone chip markets, including $4.5 billion for power management units, $3.7 billion for RF transceivers, $2.9 billion for image sensors, $2.8 billion for RF power amplifiers, $1.5 billion for standalone application processors and $1.2 billion for touch- and navigation-screen controllers.
- Other cellphone chips in the billion-dollar-plus class include those for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and fast-growing MEMS & sensors. Of course, GPS and FM radio are also significant peripheral chips each with over a half-billion dollars in 2010 shipments. Moreover, the wireless peripheral “combo” radio devices consisting of Wi-Fi, FM/AM, Bluetooth, GPS and NFC (though not yet integrated) together now constitute fully 8% of the cellphone component market.
- NFC (Near Field Communications) is the newest chip to excite the cellphone business. Although popular in Japan for contactless payments, the 61-million 2010 unit market is just catching on in Europe and the U.S., but we predict will grow at a 71% annual rate to 458 million units shipping in 2015.
- The highest 2011 growth rates in cellphone chips include LTE basebands at 8x, NFC at 94%, GPS at 33%, touch controllers at 25%, standalone application processors at 17%, Wi-Fi at 15% and MEMS at 14%.
- In spite of the demise of FloTV in the U.S. the mobile TV market for cellphones is growing worldwide with 2010 receiver shipments of over 85 million units.
As always, I invite your comments.
New Devices Are Ideal for Embedded WLAN Applications Requiring Small Size, High Efficiency and Low Battery-Voltage Operation
CHANDLER, Ariz., June 20, 2011 — Microchip Technology Inc., today announced the expansion of its RF power amplifier portfolio, with the addition of the new SST12LP17E and SST12LP18E devices. The SST12LP17E is the smallest fully matched power amp in its class, requiring only one DC bypass capacitor to achieve optimum performance. The SST12LP18E is a lower-cost, lower-voltage alternative to Microchip’s popular SST12LP14E power amp. It offers the lowest operating voltage of any Microchip RF power amp, while operating at -20 to +85 degrees Celsius. The devices feature operating voltages as low as 2.7V, linear output power as high as 18.5 dBm at 2.5 percent EVM using IEEE 802.11g OFDM 54 Mbps, and 23.5 dBm for IEEE 802.11b and a high power-added efficiency of up to 38 percent for IEEE 802.11b. The amps are offered in an 8-pin 2mm x 2mm x .45mm QFN package. They are ideal for embedded WLAN applications where small size, high efficiency and low-battery voltage operation are required, such as in the consumer electronics market, in cell phones, game consoles, printers and tablets.
Many engineers are under pressure to extend battery life in their applications, and these new devices meet that demand by offering high power-added efficiency to reduce battery current drain, while their low operating voltages further extend battery life. The SST12LP17E’s matched input and output ports are easy to use and enable faster time-to-market. Additionally, this device requires no external RF matching components and requires only one external capacitor, taking up less board space.
“With the release of these new power amps, Microchip can now offer customers the same reliable operation over temperature with even lower operating voltages,” said Daniel Chow, vice president of Microchip’s Radio Frequency Division. “Combined with high-efficiency operation, these low-operating-voltage devices extend the operating battery life for applications in the consumer-electronics industry.”
Packaging, Pricing and Availability
The new RF power amps are available in an 8-pin 2mm x 2mm x .45mm QFN package. The fully matched, low-power SST12LP17E is priced at $0.48 each, in 10,000-unit quantities, while the low-power SST12LP18E is available for $0.29 each, in 10,000-unit quantities. Samples are available today, at http://www.microchip.com/get/337Q. Volume-production quantities can be ordered today. For additional information, contact any Microchip sales representative or authorized worldwide distributor, or visit Microchip’s Web site at http://www.microchip.com/get/02K5. To purchase products mentioned in this press release, contact one of Microchip’s authorized distribution partners.
Company Collaborates with Freescale to Deliver First Development System for AR4100, a Low-Energy, Low-Cost Module for Machine-to-Machine Communications
San Jose, California — June 16, 2011 — Qualcomm Atheros Inc., the networking and connectivity subsidiary of Qualcomm Incorporated today announced the AR4100, a first-of-its-kind, highly integrated Wi-Fi system-in-package (SIP) for microcontroller (MCU) based design. The new module is based on Qualcomm Atheros’ industry-leading 802.11b/g/n single-stream Qualcomm Atheros Align technology, enabling long range transmission while minimizing energy consumption. The product is initially aimed at customers implementing machine-to-machine (M2M) communications in the smart home/building/grid markets, also referred to as the “Internet of Things.”
The AR4100 is the newest product within the Qualcomm Atheros Internet of Everything product portfolio, which includes standards-based wired and wireless technologies to enable scalable Internet protocol (IP) infrastructures for smart grid, smart home, security, building automation, remote health and wellness monitoring and other M2M applications. With its extensive technology portfolio and IP networking expertise, Qualcomm Atheros is uniquely positioned to deliver a variety of low-energy, standards-based communications solutions that connect potentially hundreds of IP addressable devices in the home, building or grid.
The AR4100 is the industry’s smallest FCC-certified SIP package, integrating all Wi-Fi functionality into a low profile 8.3 mm by 9.2 mm LGA package that can be easily mounted via low-cost PCB manufacturing flows. The AR4100 is optimized for client applications hosted by low-resource MCUs that send infrequent data packets over the network. MCUs interface to the AR4100 via a simple serial peripheral interface bus (SPI) and will be initially aimed at customers in the smart home, smart grid and smart building markets. The AR4100 SIP provides full offload of all Wi-Fi functionality, including security protocols such as WEP, WPA, WPA2 and WPS. The AR4100 is a pre-certified FCC solution that offers simple wireless system integration, requiring only a few external bypass capacitors and a connection to an antenna for a board-level design.
Qualcomm Atheros is collaborating with Freescale Semiconductor to bring the AR4100 to market. The two companies have worked together to develop an implementation for Freescale’s Tower development System. The TWR-WIFI-AR4100 is a peripheral module for the Tower System that allows the AR4100 to be quickly added to tower designs based on select Kinetis and Coldfire processors. The TWR-WIFI-AR4100 package comes with all of the required software to implement an AR4100 design, as well as example designs. The module is tightly integrated with Freescale’s MQX operating system. The TWR-WIFI-AR4100 will be available beginning June 20, 2011 through Freescale and select distribution channels.
“The AR4100 is an exciting product for Qualcomm Atheros and marks a significant step forward in advancing our Internet of Everything vision. Many potential customers have been frustrated by the lack of a standards-based, globally interoperable, low-cost modular solution for M2M applications, which is broadly available, energy efficient and can connect easily to a simple MCU running various applications,” said Adam Lapede, senior director, Internet of Things technology, Qualcomm Atheros. “Qualcomm Atheros is providing an innovative, standard Wi-Fi based solution that can deliver outstanding performance in extremely small size, with low energy and cost. Our collaboration with Freescale will help enable a wide variety of customers with the AR4100 and accelerate products getting to market with the easy-to-use Tower system and MQX development suite. We believe the AR4100 offers a unique value proposition for the industry and will help expand the universe of connected devices.”
The initial development environment is the Freescale Tower System, with optimized support for the Freescale MQX Operation System, leveraging the IAR Embedded Workbench compiler for the Freescale Kinetis MCU product line, and the Freescale CodeWarrior tool suite for the Coldfire MCU product line. The AR4100 is backwards compatible to any existing 802.11b/g infrastructure and forward compatible with higher-performance, multi-stream, MIMO–based 802.11n infrastructures.
“Freescale and Qualcomm Atheros share a common vision for increasing connectivity in the home and enterprise to share information, streamline operations and reduce expenses. We are deploying leading-edge technologies into many of these markets, but no single connectivity solution meets the needs of our diverse customer base,” said John Weil, global product and enablement manager at Freescale. “Qualcomm Atheros’ broad array of wired and wireless solutions will complement Freescale’s offering in helping our customers deliver connected devices that will enable the true Internet of Things.”
Qualcomm Atheros will be demonstrating the AR4100 solution in the Technology Lab at the Freescale Technology Forum, June 20-23 in San Antonio, Tex.
Revolutionary industrial wireless receiver connects up to 14 Limitless inputs to Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs)
MINNEAPOLIS, June 15, 2011 – Honeywell today introduced its new Limitless WDRR Wireless Din-Rail Receiver for industrial, construction, machine, material handling, and heavy transportation applications, including agricultural equipment, cranes, lifts, conveyors, grain diverters, and door positions.
The new WDRR is a din-rail or panel-mountable receiver designed to receive wireless signals from up to 14 different position-sensing switches and communicate the individual switch status to a programmable logic controller (PLC) or any controllers capable of receiving NPN/PNP inputs.
Limitless wireless switching can save up to 60% compared to traditional wired switching by reducing installation time, conduit, wire, clips and other accessories. Limitless also enables sensing capabilities where it is impossible or very difficult to run cabling.
“The new Limitless WDRR expands our innovation platform,” says Joseph Citrano, Global Product Manager for Honeywell Sensing and Control’s electromechanical line of business. “Wireless increases possibilities, reduces capital and operating expenses and adds reliability in many applications”.
The Limitless wireless network is an easy-to-implement solution for those looking for a cost-effective and reliable switching solution. It includes the WDRR and WPMM receivers, the WLS and WGLA limit switches, utilizes the global, license-free RF wireless 802.15.4 WPAN protocol, provides up to a 305 m (1000 ft) line-of-sight communication range, and prolongs battery life with advanced power management technology.
The MAX17710 harvests energy from power sources of 1uW to 100mW for efficiently charging THINERGY(R) Micro-Energy Cells (MECs).
SUNNYVALE, CA—June 15, 2011—Maxim Integrated Products introduces the MAX17710, the industry’s first IC to integrate all of the power-management functions for ambient energy harvesting, as well as for charging and protecting micro-energy cells (MECs), a form of solid-state battery. Operating at an ultra-low current level, the MAX17710 accepts energy from a variety of poorly regulated energy harvesting sources with output levels ranging from 1uW to 100mW. Examples include light (captured by photovoltaic cells), vibration (captured by a piezoelectric element), heat (captured by a thermoelectric generator), and RF (e.g., near-field communications (NFC)). The MAX17710 integrates a programmable input boost regulator and needs no expensive external components to charge a MEC with energy sources as low as 0.8V. It protects the MEC by using a linear shunt-series regulator. An ultra-low-quiescent current, adjustable low-dropout linear regulator (LDO) with selectable voltages of 3.3V, 2.3V, or 1.8V allows the MAX17710 to adapt to a variety of loads. Packaged in a low-profile 0.5mm TQFN, it enables a new class of thin, card-like applications. The IC will also be available in wafer form to enable even thinner form factors. The MAX17710 is targeted for powered smart cards, real-time clock (RTC)/memory backup applications, and wireless sensor networks. Examples of wireless sensor networks include remote applications like irrigation valve control, building energy management, machine monitoring systems, asset tracking, biometric security systems, medical applications, and a myriad of portable consumer electronics.
Industry Needs a Highly Integrated Energy-Harvesting System
Energy harvesting is poised for rapid and exponential growth. However attractive the energy sources and the uptake potential for business growth, efficient harvesting has been hampered until now by the many different power-management blocks and functions that needed to be combined for the task. As essential components were assembled, more space was consumed, which defeated the goal of reducing application size and cost. Meanwhile, a larger cell was needed for storage because quiescent current was added to the system, and the overall power budget rose to unmanageable levels for low-energy ambient sources.
The Importance of MECs
While creating the MAX17710 energy-harvesting and power-management solution, Maxim worked closely with Infinite Power Solutions, Inc. (IPS), the manufacturer of THINERGY(R) solid-state, rechargeable MEC battery products. THINERGY MECs are flexible and provide unrivaled rechargeability, cycle life, and power performance. These ultra-thin, postage-stamp-sized energy storage products offer extremely low self-discharge rates, enabling many years of shelf life and still providing reliable backup power. The unprecedented cycle life capability and unique metal foil encapsulation enable decades of reliable, maintenance-free operation.
The MAX17710 provides the energy harvesting and power management to maximize, protect, and control the energy stored in MECs. “When combined with ambient energy harvesting, MECs uniquely enable autonomous, perpetually powered solutions for decades of use,” explained David Squires, Vice President of Business Development for Infinite Power Solutions. “In energy harvesting applications, a key enabler is the quiescent current drawn by the power-management IC,” Squires added. “The MAX17710 has an unprecedented 1nA battery current draw when a harvesting source is not present.”
The MAX17710 Brings Efficiency and Flexibility to Energy Harvesting
The ultra-low operating current MAX17710 simplifies the design of energy-harvesting systems by integrating a programmable regulator, buffer energy storage management, and the charger and protection for THINERGY MECs.
The MAX17710 has an ultra-low-quiescent linear charger block to safely charge THINERGY MECs. To protect the MEC from overvoltage conditions, the MAX17710 regulates the input voltage and can shunt excess power. An ultra-low-quiescent current, undervoltage protection circuit prevents potentially damaging overdischarge of the MEC. The undervoltage protection recovers only when an external energy source raises the voltage of the MEC back into a safe zone.
At very low temperatures, all batteries exhibit increased characteristic impedance, which limits high pulse currents to the application loads. The MAX17710 integrates a unique feature that manages an external storage capacitor to augment the battery output and provide high pulse currents, even at very cold temperatures like -40 degrees Celsius.
The Benefits of Energy Harvesting for Remote and Portable Applications
Designers are attracted to energy-harvesting-based solutions because they can eliminate the need to run expensive power cables to remote locations or to replace primary batteries frequently.
Many applications such as remote sensors need extensive wiring that is difficult and expensive to install, and often time-consuming and costly to maintain. Some alternative approaches use primary batteries. Ultimately, these batteries can be burdensome and costly to replace. Enhanced security systems for critical environments like airports and hospitals are also requiring significantly upgraded personnel identification systems. Many of these portable systems have traditionally used computationally intensive biometric techniques that require a power source like a battery on the ID device. These batteries add bulk to the form factor and can be unwieldy to use in high-volume deployments. Eventually each battery needs to be replaced, a process that will cost both time and money.
Maxim’s MAX17710, in tandem with THINERGY MECs, overcomes the power- and battery-management limitations posed by the traditional sensor installations. Managing harvested ambient energy from available sources such as light, heat, RF, and vibration with the MAX17710, and efficiently storing that energy in a THINERGY MEC, provides an autonomous, maintenance-free energy source to power a remote sensor. This solution eliminates the need for expensive wiring or prohibitive labor costs to replace traditional primary batteries.
The MAX17710 also works in power-bridging applications where energy harvesting is not necessarily used. In such applications, infrastructure power (from the grid or a larger battery) is typically available to power the system and can trickle-charge an MEC for memory or RTC backup power. In the event of a loss of grid power, or a system “brownout” during replacement of the larger system battery, the stored energy in the MEC continues to power volatile memory and/or an RTC for hours, days, or even weeks. This solution displaces bulky coin cells and supercapacitors that have high self-discharge currents and limited life, especially at elevated temperatures.
Designed for the low-profile requirements of many energy harvesting applications, the MAX17710 is packaged in a lead-free, 12-pin, 3mm x 3mm x 0.5mm UTDFN. Pricing starts at $4.11 (2.5k-up, FOB USA). An evaluation (EV) kit featuring the MAX17710 PMIC, THINERGY MEC101, and solar energy harvesting is also available.
At the Energy Harvesting & Storage Europe 2011 event in Munich, Germany, Maxim will be showcasing the MAX17710 in a two-part demo that displays the various energy sources used for micropower energy harvesting. This demonstration will take place in booths 27 and 28 at the Holiday Inn Munich City Centre, June 21–22, 2011.
Provides Cost Competitive Solution for 1.5 to 3.0 GHz Wireless Applications
BALTIMORE, June 7, 2011—Skyworks Solutions, Inc. today introduced the first in a series of ultra low current, general purpose low noise amplifiers (LNAs) for diverse wireless applications including satellite receiver set-top boxes, Bluetooth headsets, medically-prescribed hearing aids, advanced meter reading devices and 2.4 GHz wireless local area networks. These high performance LNAs deliver enhanced receiver sensitivity and wide dynamic ranges facilitating improved signal reception, increased design flexibility and reduced part counts.
“Skyworks is delighted to be expanding our product portfolio with solutions that deliver better performance and are cost competitive for a wide range of markets,” said David Stasey, vice president of analog components at Skyworks. “In addition, our new low noise amplifiers enable Skyworks to enter new markets – driving intense diversification beyond our proven front-end solutions for mobile devices.”
About Skyworks’ New Low Noise Amplifiers
The miniature SKY67014-396LF is an advanced gallium arsenide pseudomorphic high electron mobility transistor (pHEMT) enhancement mode process LNA with an integrated active bias and on-die stability structures enabling simple external matching and stable performance over temperature. Skyworks’ enhancement mode pHEMT process allows the device to offer excellent return loss (15 dB typical), stable gain (12 db), low noise (<1 dB) and high linearity (+18 dBm OIP3) while drawing <6 ma of bias current. The SKY67014-396LF offers the designer the ability to externally adjust the supply current to further optimize the amplifier linearity performance for the chosen application. The supply voltage is applied to the RF-OUT/VDD pin through an RF choke inductor and through the VBIAS pin through an external resistor. The supply voltage is adjustable over a range of 1.5 to 5V. The LNA is manufactured in a compact, 2 x 2 millimeter, 8-pin dual flat no-lead, restriction of hazardous substances compliant, surface mount technology package.
The device is the first in a series of high performance, low power LNAs targeting broadband wireless applications. Additional footprint compatible LNAs for the 100 – 700 MHz and 700 – 1500 MHz bands will be launched later this year.
Pricing and Availability
Skyworks’ new low noise amplifiers are currently available. For volume pricing please contact email@example.com.
New Tools Make it Easy to Develop Cost-Effective, Low-Power Star and Mesh Wireless Products Based on Microchip’s Free, Proprietary MiWi Protocol Stacks
CHANDLER, Ariz., June 6, 2011 — Microchip Technology Inc., a leading provider of microcontroller, analog and Flash-IP solutions, today announced its expanded MiWi Development Environment (DE), which is a complete ecosystem for designing star and mesh wireless networking products. The MiWi DE is comprised of Microchip’s free, proprietary MiWi P2P, MiWi and MiWi PRO star and mesh networking protocol stacks; the 8-bit Wireless Development Kit (WDK) and ZENA Wireless Adapters (2.4 GHz, 868 MHz and 915 MHz); and the multi-purpose Wireless Development Studio (WDS) with cross-platform support for the Linux, Mac OS and Windows operating systems. The MiWi DE is ideal for the development of ISM-band wireless networking applications for the home and industrial automation, wireless sensor monitoring and control, and smart energy markets.
Low-power wireless connectivity is becoming increasingly popular in many embedded microcontroller applications, and Microchip’s new additions to the MiWi DE combine to make it easy for designers to add wireless connectivity. The new MiWi PRO mesh-networking protocol is ideal for design engineers needing to create medium to large wireless systems. It supports up to 64 hops and 8,000 nodes in an integrated mesh-network topology. The Wireless Development Studio allows the quick, easy development of wireless applications based on the MiWi protocols. It features a MiWi protocol sniffer for monitoring, debugging and gathering information, and a configurator with a graphical user interface that enables the simple customization and configuration of wireless networks.
Microchip’s two new hardware tools simplify wireless application development. The ZENA Wireless Adapters meet customer demand for a portable, multi-function development tool. When paired with the Wireless Development Studio, the ZENA Wireless Adapters can be used for sniffing, probing and testing; or, they can be configured as a node on the network. The 8-bit Wireless Development Kit provides eXtreme Low Power PIC microcontroller users with an easy-to-use platform for developing, evaluating and testing low-power, cost-effective embedded wireless connectivity. It features a pair of wireless PICtail daughter boards, two battery-friendly 8-bit XLP PIC MCU development boards and the ability to add additional nodes to create a larger wireless network.
“Microchip’s new MiWi DE gives our customers the tools they need to quickly and easily add low-power embedded wireless connectivity to their applications,” said Steve Caldwell, director of Microchip’s Wireless Products Division. “This single, seamless development environment supports three interchangeable protocol stacks with three interchangeable wireless PICtail daughter boards, reducing risk and enabling faster time to market with a flexible, cost-effective solution for our customers.”
Packaging, Pricing and Availability
The new MiWi PRO protocol stack – as part of the expanded MiWi DE – is available today via free download, at www.microchip.com/miwi. The Wireless Development Studio is available today via free download, at www.microchip.com/wds. The 8-bit Wireless Development Kit – 2.4 GHz MRF24J40 (part # DM182015-1) is available today for $299, at http://www.microchip.com/get/S6C2. The ZENA Wireless Adapter – 2.4 GHz MRF24J40 (part # AC182015-1) is available today for $49, at http://www.microchip.com/zena. ZENA adapters for 868 MHz and 915 MHz wireless applications are expected to be available in the fourth quarter of 2011. For additional information, contact any Microchip sales representative or authorized worldwide distributor, or visit Microchip’s Web site at http://www.microchip.com/get/G2TL. To purchase products mentioned in this press release, go to www.microchipDIRECT.com or contact one of Microchip’s authorized distribution partners.
Company showcases at Computex 2011 a suite of new smartphones, tablets and MiFi mobile hotspot devices developed for the China market powered by Marvell’s PXA920 series of high performance single-chip TD-SCDMA solutions
TAIPEI, Taiwan (June 1, 2011) — Marvell today demonstrated its leadership in China’s fast-growing TD-SCDMA market by showcasing at Computex 2011 a full complement of smartphones, tablets and MiFi mobile hotspot devices incorporating Marvell products now shipping in China. Home to the world’s largest mobile phone market, China has developed the TD-SCDMA standard as part of its national telecommunication strategy and intends to make it accessible to its over half-billion mobile phone users. For its part, Marvell has been a key technology partner since early on in the realization and development of the standard, and is the first company to develop a single-chip solution for the TD-SCDMA market, which is designed to enable a wide array of product platforms like smartphones, tablets and MiFi mobile hotspot devices.
“When China Mobile, the world’s largest mobile operator, began its mission to build an advanced and affordable smartphone more than three years ago, Marvell was the only major silicon partner who committed to the program because we believed and invested in the bright future of this great opportunity. Recent introductions of China Mobile’s new TD-SCDMA smartphones, tablets and MiFi mobile hotspot devices have the mobile world buzzing,” said Weili Dai, Marvell’s Co-Founder. “Marvell has raised the technology bar for the entire industry. We believe Marvell has delivered a quantum leap to the development and adoption of the TD-SCDMA standard. Because of this breakthrough, more than a dozen world-leading mobile OEMs are launching Marvell PXA920 based products in China. We’re very proud to enable the next billion users of connected devices in China.”
Marvell’s industry-leading TD-SCDMA solution is designed to deliver world-class performance – 3D graphics, mobile gaming, mobile TV, and high definition video with a unified user experience across different product platforms enabled by Marvell’s beautiful and easy-to-use Kinoma software. Additionally, the PXA920 series of products are the industry’s first TD-SCDMA solution that combines a high performance application processor and modem and enables realization of the long-standing quest for mass market smartphones priced at 1,000 RMB. This same platform is designed to support worldwide 3G and 2G standards, allowing OEMs to rapidly deploy WCDMA smartphones, tablets, and MiFi mobile hotspot devices in China and beyond.
Guest Blog by Will Strauss, President & Principal Analyst, Forward Concepts
NVIDIA’s Icera Purchase Changes the Cellular Chip Landscape
As I suggested in my November 3, 2010 newsletter, graphics leader NVIDIA has purchased Icera Semiconductor for $375 million in cash. I personally think that was a bargain price for Nvidia, since the acquisition now puts it on a level that could rival Qualcomm, Intel and ST-Ericsson in the fast-growing LTE cellphone chip market. Nvidia’s Tegra 2 has been successful in the smartphone and tablet application processor marketplace and Icera’s upcoming E410 LTE baseband/RF platform is the only chipset besides Qualcomm’s that has demonstrated integrated 2G/3G/4G with tri-mode handover. The Icera multimode LTE baseband chip has been the only alternative to Qualcomm for test equipment and operator reference user equipment (UE) for their own multimode verification.
Already the major alternative to Qualcomm in chips for 3G USB dongles and shipping in their first (3G Android) handset (See my March 2nd Newsletter), Icera has been very aggressive. With NVIDIA’s multi-billion-dollar financial muscle behind it, the worthy Icera solution should now have a strong reception among tier-one handset makers.
Some naysayers say that it’s an insufficient purchase to assure a strong cellular market position, arguing that the pairing doesn’t include ancillary chips like Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GPS, NFC, etc. Actually the “combo” chip market that includes combinations of these marches to a different drummer, since Bluetooth and Wi-Fi continue evolving with new versions out every few months and NFC is in its infancy (at least outside of Japan). Consequently, it makes little sense to integrate any of these into a stable baseband chip, and leaves room for companies like Broadcom, CSR and Texas Instruments to work with Nvidia on specific handsets and tablets. One could argue that GPS is stable, but newer chips are adding GLONASS and (perhaps soon) Galileo capability.
Antcor: New 4G Stack Provider
Sometimes Greeks bear gifts worth having. Athens-based Antcor S.A. has ambitious plans to provide LTE stacks from Level 1 (the PHY) and Level 2 and higher. Founded in 2004 by former Atmel employees, the company began providing software for the wireless ISP market and later participated in WiMAX projects. Although consisting of only 12 people (all with advanced degrees), the company has completed an LTE baseband simulation framework along with a DSP optimized C code and plans to provide implementation for higher protocol layers (L2/L3). Unlike UE stack vendors like SySDSoft (now owned by Intel) and 4M Wireless that address the handset market, Antcor is addressing LTE base stations, a market currently addressed by Continuous Computing (being acquired by RadiSys), ArrayComm and mimoOn. Antcor is currently working with baseband chip vendors and plans to release Level 2 & 3 stacks next quarter.
Embedded Vision Alliance: A New Concept
Yesterday, a dozen major companies announced the formation of a new alliance, dedicated to the concept that machines need to see and understand their environments and referred to as embedded vision. The poster child for the concept is probably the Microsoft Kinect, which added vision to the Xbox 360 and became the fastest-selling (non-mobile) consumer electronics device in history, shipping more than 10 million units in 5 months. The Embedded Vision Alliance (www.embedded-vision.com) was initiated by our colleagues at Berkeley Design Technology Inc. and already includes founding members Analog Devices, Apical Imaging, Avnet, CEVA, CogniVue, Freescale, IMS Research, National Instruments, NVIDIA, Texas Instruments, Tokyo Electron Device, The MathWorks, Xilinx and XMOS.
The Alliance is dedicated to the concept that incorporating vision capabilities into future products will bring dramatic benefits to users and thus provides high-growth opportunities in consumer, medical, automotive, entertainment, industrial, and retail markets. Unlike the markets for video compression, which are already standards-based, the Alliance will address systems that extract meaning from video a realm that presently has few standards.
Adapteva Massively Parallel CPU Introduced
At the recent Embedded Systems Conference, we were introduced to a new RISC-based multicore processor created by a former key designer of Analog Devices’ TigerSHARC DSP chip, the first processor to enable software programmable 3G and WiMAX base station platforms and was the most energy efficient floating point microprocessor in the world at the time of its release. Adapteva, Inc. has introduced its “Epiphany” microprocessor architecture, a scalable shared memory architecture, featuring from 4 to 4,096 processors on a single chip connected through a high-bandwidth on-chip network. Each processor node represents a fully-featured 32-bit floating point RISC processor built from scratch for multicore processing, a high bandwidth local memory system, and an extensive set of built-in hardware features for multicore communication. Adapteva’s low-power design and standard ANSI-C programming model is ultimately aimed at tablets and smartphones. However, the company’s initial product is the less-ambitious Anemone™ co-processor for FPGAs which provides 16 independent RISC cores, available from BittWare, Inc. on standard boards (BittWare has long been a supplier of board products based on Analog Devices DSPs paired with FPGAs).
Updated LTE Baseband List
In my May newsletter, I listed announced and available LTE baseband chips, but we overlooked a few. So, in addition to the 11 we listed earlier, here are the others:
- GCT Semiconductor: GDM7240 RF with LGE’s L2000 baseband in volume production for Verizon LTE USB dongles
- HiSilicon: Shipping in Vodafone B1000 router, sampling in Option LTE USB dongles
- Icera: E410 chipset is sampling and is one of only one besides Qualcomm that has demonstrated multimode 4G/3G/2G handover
- Innofidei: China-based supplier of first TD-LTE basebands for 20MHz bandwidth, employed in ZTE USB dongles
- Leadcore Technology: The China-based subsidiary of Datang offers the LC1760 device which can automatically switch between TD-LTE and TD-SCDMA.
- LGE: L2000 single-mode LTE baseband shipping in Germany’s Turbobox and Verizon-brand USB dongles (paired with Qualcomm’s MSM6800A)
- Motorola: Shipping in the Droid Bionic handset and XOOM tablet, though LTE software is still a work in progress
- NTT DoCoMo LTE Licensees: Fujitsu, Panasonic & Renesas (based on Tensilica DSP cores); Now in Japan field trials.
- ST-Ericsson: Thor M7400 LTE/HSPA+ modem sampling this quarter.
- ZTE: Providing no details, the company claims it will offer its own LTE chipset in 2011.
If you have better information on any of these or other LTE chips, I’d love to hear from you.
As always, I invite your comments.