Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Synapse and Silicon Labs Launch Wireless Module for Mesh Networks

Sub-GHz connectivity for smart meters, building automation and personal medical devices
Synapse Wireless and Silicon Laboratories have teamed up to develop a wireless mesh network solution that combines the SNAP network operating system with Silicon Labs' Si1000 wireless microcontroller (MCU). The combined software/hardware solution - the Synapse RF Engine module - makes it easy to deploy a scalable, ultra-low-power, small-footprint wireless mesh network for a wide range of applications including smart meters, wireless sensors, Zigbee networks, building automation, commercial lighting control, personal medical devices and RFID asset tracking systems.

The SNAP network operating system provides a high-performance wireless mesh network protocol that supports Internet-enabled, wireless machine-to-machine communications, and offers an embedded Python interpreter for easy application development. Providing the intelligence behind the Synapse RF Engine, SNAP runs on Silicon Labs' Si1000 wireless MCU, which combines an ultra-low-power processor core with a high-performance sub-GHz RF transceiver delivering high-bandwidth and extended-range wireless connectivity.

SNAP allows wireless applications to be developed quickly and easily using Python's English-like scripting language instead of complex embedded programming. The developer simply adds the application to SNAP, residing on the RF module, over-the-air. No embedded wireless programming experience is required to develop applications and deploy them to physical SNAP nodes. Instead of being burdened with the underlying complexities of a wireless mesh network, the developer can focus on getting the application to market quickly.

The intelligent SNAP network operating system enables nodes to join the mesh network instantly and the software's over-the-air programming and Python interpreter ensure easy, fast and flexible application development.

The Synapse RF Engine provides a turnkey hardware/software solution that developers can deploy immediately in their end products. It also offers an easy-to-use development platform for system engineers who want to migrate their wireless designs to high-volume applications using the Si1000 MCU running SNAP as embedded firmware.

"The collaboration between Silicon Labs and Synapse has resulted in a best-in-class, sub-GHz wireless networking solution that combines the industry's lowest power wireless MCU with the sophisticated networking and Internet connectivity capabilities of SNAP," said Wade Patterson, Synapse Founder, President and CEO. "The jointly developed wireless platform will streamline the development of cost-effective and energy-efficient mesh networks."

Developers using the Si1000-based Synapse RF Engine will have access to the full product and service offerings from Synapse. This includes custom design services for solving tough, engineering challenges in OEM product design; the Synapse Portal wireless application development environment for ease in network management and rapid application development; and SNAP Connect, for seamless integration to the Internet.

"The combination of the Si1000 wireless MCU and SNAP provides a comprehensive mesh networking solution for ISM band applications in the sub-GHz range," said Mark Thompson, vice president of embedded mixed-signal products at Silicon Labs. "Using this combined hardware/software solution, developers can get their wireless applications up and running quickly and easily while benefiting from the power-efficient, battery-saving capabilities of the Si1000 MCU and its exceptional wireless range and performance."

Synapse SNAP Network Operating System

Synapse's SNAP network operating system is an Internet-enabled, IEEE 802.15.4-based, instant-on, multi-hop, mesh network, software solution designed to cost-effectively run efficiently over a range of popular microprocessors and microcontrollers. SNAP has a very small memory footprint of only 45 kB, thereby leaving more space for user applications. SNAP can support up to 16 million nodes in a single network. Since these are peer-to-peer mesh networks, there is no single point of failure: any node can talk directly to any other node that is in range, and any node can talk indirectly to any other node via intermediate nodes - SNAP networks are self-healing. Users can interactively develop applications using a high-level English-like language called Python. No embedded programming experience is required. Synapse currently has more than 900 registered SNAP users.

Silicon Labs Si1000 Wireless MCU
The Si1000 wireless MCU, a member of the Si10xx family, combines a 25 MHz 8051 core, EZRadioPRO® sub-GHz RF transceiver, 64 kB of flash and a 10-bit ADC - all in a compact 5 mm x 7 mm package. As the industry's only sub-GHz 8-bit wireless MCUs, the Si10xx family offers market-leading RF performance with the highest output power and sensitivity and lowest power wake-up transition. The Si10xx family's integrated power and low-noise amplifiers enable an RF link budget of greater than 140 dB without active external elements, resulting in extended range, higher bandwidth and lower power consumption. The industry's most power-efficient wireless MCU solution, the Si10xx family provides the lowest current in common modes of operation. The wireless MCUs offer the lowest active-mode current consumption (160 microamps per MHz). In sleep mode, they consume only 315 nanoamps using the internal low frequency RTC. In deep-sleep mode, they can operate on as little as 25 nA with full RAM retention.

Pricing and Availability
The Si1000 MCU-based Synapse RF Engine module is available today from Synapse and MSRP priced at USD$29 for 1-unit quantities with volume discounts available. The Synapse SNAP evaluation download for the Si1000 MCU is also available from Synapse.
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