Dust Networks is an intersting company as a leading supplier of wireless sensor networks (WSN). It is using the low power ARM Cortex-M3 processor for a new family of system-on-chips (SoCs) that include an on-chip power amplifier (PA) that will be the basis for a variety of upcoming standards-based WSN products, including IEC 62591 (WirelessHART), 6LOWPAN (IP), and Zigbee PRO products. This is key for the development of the SmartGrid.
The SoCs will feature:
- A 32-bit ARM Cortex-M3 processor and rich interfaces enable a powerful computing platform while conserving power.
- The world's lowest power IEEE 802.15.4 radio: a new benchmark is set, with a mere 3 mA transmit at 0 dBm and 3 mA receive current, delivering 5-10 times the battery life of competing technologies, and further expanding the applicability of energy harvesting power sources.
- Extended range capabilities, with up to 8 dBm output power on-chip PA and an optional external power amplifier.
- The industry's first IEEE 802.15.4E-ready product, incorporating the emerging standard for time synchronization and channel hopping, while providing legacy support for 802.15.4-2006.
"Our new SoCs are geared to deliver the highest performance while running at a fraction of the power of competing silicon," said Dr. Kris Pister, Chief Technologist at Dust Networks. "In selecting the ARM Cortex-M3 processor for our SoC, we did not have to trade-off performance for power. Dust Networks new IEEE 802.15.4 SoCs will require less than one-tenth of the energy per operation of comparable SoCs."
The level of systems integration in the SoCs is very high, including on-chip power amplifier, DC-to-DC converter, 10 bit ADC and a built in temperature sensor. With configurations up to 512kB of flash and 72kB of RAM, these SoCs will have both the highest computational horsepower of any 802.15.4 chip on the market, and the lowest power consumption. In doze mode, with full processor state and RAM retention, current consumption is under 1uA.
"Low power radios such as IEEE 802.15.4 and wireless mesh networking, epitomized by Dust Networks' TSMP protocol and its "Smart Dust" roots, have transformed the industrial wireless sensor network landscape", said Mareca Hatler, ON World research director. "With the introduction of ultra low power versions of SmartMesh IP (6LoWPAN) systems and ZigBee products, Dust Networks will expand the growing number of 'Smart World' applications that span Smart Buildings, Cities, Government and Homes."