Freescale re-enters the RF IC market for the Internet of Things
March 07, 2013 // Nick Flaherty
Freescale Semiconductor is planning to re-enter the RF chip market later this year to support new ARM-based processors with wireless networking and cellular links.
“We were working with partners on 180nm integration and decided to go for a multimode IP developed in 86nm that can be integrated across the entire L and K microcontroller families and that will drive the flash memory and RAM requirements,” said Geoff Lees, senior vice president and general manager of Microcontrollers.
A stand-alone 2.4GHz radio that supports Zigbee and Bluetooth protocols will be launched at the end of 2013 says Lees. This can be used in a stacked package with the microcontrollers for a single package device for embedded designs such as Machine to Machine (M2M). The IP will also be integrated with the controllers for a single chip.
“In parallel we are developing broadband RF but still looking at the ideal node beyond 90nm and the sweet spot could be 65nm or even 40nm,” he said. This will support emerging LTE cellular applications.
Although it has a wide range of high power RF transistors, Freescale sold its RF chip business in 2009, transferring 120 staff to Fujitsu America. But it kept key designers in-house who have continued to work on embedded RF technology.
Last week Freescale launched the world’s smallest ARM processor, aimed at the expanding Internet of Things (IoT). The KL02 (above) holds great potential for ultra-small-form-factor products in applications such as portable consumer devices, remote sensing nodes, wearable devices and ingestible healthcare sensing says Lees, which is where the RF capability is vital.
Measuring just 1.9 x 2.0 mm in chip scale packaging, the Kinetis KL02 MCU is 25 percent smaller than the industry’s next-smallest ARM MCU. Within this miniscule device, Freescale has included a 48MHz ARM Cortex-M0+ processor, 32KB of flash, low-power functionality and a range of analog and communication peripherals. This enables system designers to dramatically reduce the size of their boards and products while retaining the all-important performance, feature integration and power consumption characteristics of their end devices. In addition, space-constrained applications that previously couldn’t incorporate an MCU now can be upgraded to become smart applications, adding a new tier of devices to the IoT ecosystem.
“Freescale has been a pioneer in many aspects of the ARM Powered MCU market with our Kinetis portfolio,” said Lees. “We were the first to market with MCUs based on the ARM Cortex-M4 and Cortex-M0+ processors, we set new standards for entry-level MCU energy efficiency, and we’ve now created the world’s smallest ARM Powered MCU, helping advance the Internet of Things era.”
The KL02 is the third CSP MCU in the Kinetis portfolio, joining the larger 120/143-pin Kinetis K series K60/K61 variants. Additional Kinetis CSP MCUs with increased performance, memory and feature options are planned throughout 2013.
It delivers 15.9 CM/mA and, like the other Kinetis MCUs, it includes autonomous, power-smart peripherals (in this case, an ADC, UART and timer), 10 flexible power modes and wide clock and power gating to minimize power loss. A low-power boot mode reduces power spikes during the boot sequence or deep sleep wake-up. This is useful for systems in which battery chemistry limits the allowable peak current, such as those employing lithium-ion batteries frequently used in portable devices.
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Internet of Things (IoT) manufacturer Ciseco has launched the Raspberry Pi ‘Wireless Inventors Kit’ (RasWIK), featuring 88 pieces to provide everything a Pi owner needs to follow a series of step-by-step projects or to create their own wireless devices, without the need for configuration or even writing code.
RasWIK has been designed to be highly accessible, demystifying the dark art of wireless and enabling anyone with basic computing skills to begin building wireless devices with a Raspberry Pi. You can create anything from a simple traffic light, to a battery monitor, or even a temperature gauge that sends data to the Xively IoT cloud so billions can access the data.This month, Ciseco is giving away twelve Raspberry Pi Wireless Inventors kits, worth £49.99 each for EETimes Europe's readers to win.
And the winners are...
In our previous reader offer, Farsens was giving away five kits for EEtimes Europe readers to evaluate its FenixVortex, Kineo and X1 wireless, battery free sensor tags.
Lucky winners include Mr A. Neil from the UK, Mr. E. Delvaux from Belgium, Mr Lengal from the Czech Republic, Mr H. Bijlsma from the Netherlands, and Mr G. Pfaff from Germany. All should be receiving their packages soon. Lets wish them some interesting findings with their projects.
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