Redpine Flexes ‘Lowest-Power’ Wireless MCU

Article By : Junko Yoshida, EE Times

Redpine is rolling out the industry's lowest-power wireless combo solution featuring advanced security with integrated Bluetooth 5, dual-band Wi-Fi, 802.15.4/ZigBee/Thread, for battery-operated IoT applications.

MADISON, Wis. — The IoT market has long proven elusive for its myriad main-chancers. Lately, however, some of those suitors are feeling comfortable enough to proclaim, at a recent industry gathering, that IoT is finally what’s happening. 

Moreover, the IoT market “is expanding,” said Tim Vehling, president of Redpine Signals, in a recent interview with EE Times.

Clearly, there is no shortage of wireless chips on the IoT market, with many chips today claiming to offer both low power and multi-protocol support. But signs of a market shift on IoT are visible. Vehling observed many IoT device designers are now looking for combo wireless chips capable of supporting “a huge throughput and a longer range at a very low power.”

Think battery-operated IoT devices, he said. Connected devices like wireless video (home surveillance, for example) and drones fall into that category. For IoT apps involving video, Wi-Fi is critical. 

Rather than assuming the presence of a smartphone to which Wi-Fi connectivity can be assigned, IoT system designers now want a big-pipe Wi-Fi- combo chip operating at a very low power.  Redpine is rolling out Tuesday (Dec. 12) wireless combo chips featuring advanced security with integrated Bluetooth 5, dual-band Wi-Fi, 802.15.4/ZigBee/Thread.

Redpine's lowest-power multi-protocol wireless MCU RS14100 block diagram
(Source: Redpine Signals)

Redpine’s lowest-power multi-protocol wireless MCU RS14100 block diagram
(Source: Redpine Signals)

Ultra-low power 
Separating Redpine’s new Wi-Fi combo chips from similar IoT chips is its claim to absolutely ultra-low power. At Redpine, “We are confident that we are offering the industry’s lowest Wi-Fi standby associated current of less than 50uA,” said Vehling. This represents a significant reduction of power, he said. The standby capacity of Redpine’s own previous version of Wi-Fi-capable IoT chip was 1 milliamps. Redpine’s new chips are manufactured by using a 40nm process technology.

Vehling cited Texas Instruments and Cypress Semiconductor as Redpine’s closest competitors, but in terms of standby power, he believes that Redpine offers “the lowest based on anything that has been publicly announced by other companies.”

Cypress, for example, announced last September for IoT market a new Wi-Fi/Bluetooth combo chip, called CYW43012, using 28nm process technology. The chip consumes “about 0.003mA on a 3.6V rail and 90uA on a 1.8V rail in an associated Wi-Fi standby state,” according to the company.

Integrated into Redpine’s new multi-protocol wireless connectivity chips are dual-band (2.4/5GHz) 802.11abgn Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5 and 802.15.4 for Thread or ZigBee connectivity. 

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