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Silicon Labs gives its Zigbee chips memory boost

Posted: 26 Feb 2014  Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:memory  Zigbee  Silicon Labs 

Silicon Labs has supplemented its Zigbee chips with an expanded flash and system memory to accommodate more applications running on the ARM Cortex M3 core. The EM358x SoC series targets next-generation IoT applications that require incorporation of multiple processors.

The additional memory minimises the need for a separate system processor, enabling developers to collapse some or all of their multi-processor designs into a single ZigBee SoC to reduce BOM cost and the size of the final product. By offering larger flash and RAM memory options, the SoCs enables developers to future-proof smart energy applications such as smart meters, which often require more code space to store new firmware and additional RAM enabling product lifespans of up to 20 years.

The SoC family offers an on-chip USB peripheral to simplify system programming and eliminate the need for an external USB controller, further reducing system cost. Many ZigBee-enabled devices require a USB connection to provide an easy-to-use serial application interface or a service port to the device. The USB port can also be used to download new firmware images onto the device, reducing maintenance cost.

A local storage bootloader eases application development and enables the embedded software to be field-upgraded after the Ember ZigBee-enabled product leaves the factory. The new bootloader capability eliminates the need for external flash memory to support over-the-air upgrade images by using the SoCs on-chip flash to store firmware images for bootloading, reducing the component count, cost and size of the product.

The SoCs have a configurable total link budget up to 110dB and the 8dBm transmit power allows operation in in many applications without an external power amplifier, especially in Europe and Asia where regulatory limits do not allow much higher transmit power.

The SoCs provide pin- and software-compatible drop-in replacements for Silicon Labs widely used EM351 and EM357 ZigBee SoCs. Compatible cross-platform software libraries and tools allow easy migration from EM351/7 to the EM358x SoC family. The Ember ZigBee mesh networking platform also complements Silicon Labs portfolio of EZRadio and EZRadioPRO sub-GHz transceivers and Si10xx wireless MCUs, which provide high-performance, ultra-low-power solutions for point-to-point and star networking applications.

EM358x SoCs are tightly integrated with the field-proven EmberZNet PRO protocol stack which is deployed in more wireless mesh networking products than any other ZigBee PRO stack, EmberZNet PRO software provides enhancements for robustness, scalability and ease-of-use even in larger networks and more challenging environments. The software stack is complemented by the proven Ember Desktop development environment, which reduces design time by providing sophisticated visualisation and debugging tools and application templates for the ZigBee Smart Energy, ZigBee Home Automation and ZigBee Light Link profiles.

Samples of the EM358x Ember ZigBee SoCs are available now in a 48 pin 7mm x 7mm package, and production quantities are planned for Q2 2014.

- Nick Flaherty
  EE Times Europe





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