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Friday, February 23, 2018

Adesto XiP boosts battery life in ST's IoT nodes

By Nick Flaherty

Adesto Technologies has teamed up with STMicroelectronics for low-power, low-latency eXecute-in-Place (XiP) operation on ST’s STM32L4+ microcontrollers.

The combination of STM32L4+ MCUs and Adesto's EcoXiP non-volatile memories enables designers to create IoT devices requiring numerous sensors and other advanced capabilities with longer battery life.

The STM32L4+ series adds more embedded memory and connnectivity, and is the first STM32-family architecture to have two Octal SPI ports which support NOR Flash including XiP operation.

For many applications, the embedded memory in an MCU is not sufficient, and external XiP memory provides a solution. 

“By pairing ST’s new ultra-low power STM32L4+ MCUs with EcoXiP, designers can architect high-performance, low-power XiP systems for more energy-efficient, lower-cost products,” said Gideon Intrater, CTO of Adesto. “Not every application needs a XiP solution, but for those that can benefit from it, there is no better solution in the market than EcoXiP.”

Samples of Adesto’s EcoXiP non-volatile system-accelerating memory are available now in densities from 32Mbit to 128Mbit. 

Thursday, February 22, 2018

mbed launches certified IoT modules

By Nick Flaherty

mbed, the online embedded development tool supplier, has expanded its Mbed Enabled program to include production modules pre-verified to support the Mbed OS operating system and associated connectivity protocols. The program provides product developers with a simple entry point to the marketplace, where they can find mass production quality modules running high quality open source software and supporting a diverse suite of connectivity drivers and protocols.

IoT system makers are turning to module manufacturers to provide pre-verified functionality, particularly for host-less modules featuring an onboard microprocessor and built in connectivity. With so many vendors and modules to choose from, selecting the most suitable module vendor with the right experience and scale to support the company’s specific requirements has become a significant barrier to entry.

Additionally, due to the range of connectivity options used in IoT, finding a cross platform software solution with professional development tools is also problematic. Product developers often repeat costly software development programs when developing product families that must support a range of connectivity standards.

The Mbed Enabled Module program is being launched now with wiFI, Bluetooth and LoRa modules from u-blox, Advantech and Multitech running mbed OS. 

Related stories:

  • Semtech delivers LoRaWAN IoT networking via ARM's mbed dev tool
  • mbed OS 5.7 brings robust embedded file management and mesh networking stack

Murata teams with Altair and ST on smallest CAT-M/NB1 IoT module

By Nick Flaherty

Murata is using Altair Semiconductor's dual-mode CAT-M1/NB1 chipset and STMicroelectronics' STM32 MCU and ST33 Secure MCU for a new generation of cellular IoT modules and end nodes devices.

The modules allow LTE connectivity for multiple vertical markets, including ultra-small Asset Tags, pharmaceuticals/healthcare devices, wearable devices and GNSS trackers. The solutions will include support for Amazon Web Services (AWS) and other Cloud-based service providers. 

"The CAT-M/NB1 module with GNSS will be the world's smallest form factor solution enabling new possibilities and applications that were not possible before. Additionally, their simplicity and high level of integration will drastically reduce time to market," said Mehul Udani, General Manager, Connectivity Solutions at Murata 

The ALT1250 chipset powers Murata's Type 1SE end device and Type 1SC module, supports CAT-M1 and NB1 narrowband communications over existing cellular 4G networks. It incorporates Altair's OneSKU RF technology to enable multiple LTE band combinations, as well as CAT-M1 and NB1 functionality with a single hardware design. 

The module measures 11.1x11.4x1.4 mm, which is less than half the area of many other commercial solutions, and IoT providers can pair this module with any of the 700+ STM32 microcontrollers to address a wider range of IoT applications.

The ISE end device measures 15 x 17 x 1.4 mm, using the STM32L462REY6 is an ultra-low-power MCU which features an Arm Cortex-M4 running at 80MHz with 512KB Flash and 160 KB SRAM. The STM32L4 MCU has several low-power modes, including a Standby mode that consumes only 450nA while retaining 16 KBytes of SRAM and RTC running, and an optimised Shutdown mode that draws only 8nA. 

The ST33J2M0 Secure Microcontroller is based on the 32-bit Arm SecurCore SC300 processor, with 2Mbytes of embedded flash to store securely sensitive data, hardware accelerators for advanced cryptographic functions and additional security features to help protecting against advanced form of attacks.

Additional features include GNSS and cellular-based positioning engines, an IoT-optimized security framework, and integrated VoLTE support. The ALT1250 supports both the 3GPP power saving mode (PSM) and eDRX that can increase battery life to up to 15 years in certain use cases. The ALT1250 will be firmware-upgradable to support the next generation NB2 protocol. 

"This collaboration with Murata and Altair makes the breadth of STM32-family MCUs, and its outstanding development ecosystem, available to Murata's customers and is an ideal solution to help minimize the size, maximize the efficiency, and quickly prototype and implement Murata's CAT-M/NB1 IoT solutions," said Michel Buffa Group Vice President, Microcontroller Division General Manager, STMicroelectronics.

Samples of the 1SC Type radio modules will be available in March and 1SE Type samples are expected in June.

ST launches multiprotocol Bluetooth 5 mesh and 802.15.4 IoT chip

By Nick Flaherty

STMicroelectronics has launched a dual core wireless chip that supports both Bluetooth 5 and 802.15.4 Zigbee/Thread protocols.

The STM32WB wireless System-on-Chip (SoC) devices combine a fully-featured Arm Cortex-M4-based microcontroller to run the main application as well as an Arm Cortex-M0+ core to offload the main processor and offer real time operation on the BLE5 and IEEE 802.15.4 radio. The radio can also run other wireless protocols concurrently, including OpenThread, ZigBee, or proprietary protocols, giving even more options for connecting devices to the Internet of Things (IoT).

This allows the developer to manage the user application and the radio separately for optimum performance and with the higher performance of an M4 and up to 1MByte of flash memory. 

The chip also includes the balun for connecting to the antenna, which engineers must usually design themselves with multiple components, as well as hardware encryption and customer-key storage for brand and IP protection.

The 2.4GHz radio consumes only 5.5mA in transmit mode, and as little as 3.8mA when receiving. The STM32WB has an RF link budget of -102dBm and is capable of +6dBm output power.

The new devices use the STM32 digital and analogue peripherals such as timers, ultra-low-power comparators, 12/16-bit SAR ADC, a capacitive touch controller, LCD controller, and industry-standard connectivity including crystal-less USB 2.0 FS, I2C, SPI, SAI audio interface, and a Quad-SPI supporting execution in place.

“The STM32WB series delivers the advanced integration and uncompromising dual-core performance that developers now need to meet relentless end-user demands for even better and more affordable smart connected objects,” said Michel Buffa, Group Vice President, Microcontroller Division General Manager at STMicroelectronics. “Moreover, compatibility with the STM32 development ecosystem brings design advantages that can significantly reduce time to market for new products like lights, fitness trackers, medical monitors, beacons, tags, security devices, and many others.”

The M0+ core suppots certified protocol stacks including ST’s OpenThread stack and the Bluetooth 5 stack with Mesh 1.0 support, which comes with multiple profiles. The radio’s generic HCI and Media Access Control (MAC) layer gives developers the flexibility to use their own choice of Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) stack, or other IEEE 802.15.4 proprietary stacks.

State-of-the-art protection features -- essential to protect users’ data and help product vendors protect their intellectual property in all smart connected devices -- include embedded customer-key storage, an elliptic curve encryption engine for Public Key Authentication (PKA), and hardware support for AES 256-bit cryptography. Vendors can also future-proof products in the field, leveraging Secure Firmware Update (SFU) and support for Root Secure Service (RSS) to authenticate Over the Air (OTA) updates.

To assist development, the STM32WB platform is served by a dedicated connectivity tool, STM32CubeMonitor-RF, which simplifies radio testing. Users can also take advantage of the STM32CubeMX pinout/clock configurator and code generator, as well as peripheral drivers, middleware, code examples, and a dedicated STM32 Nucleo board to accelerate time to market.

STM32WB devices will be available in a choice of 48-pin UQFN, 68-pin VQFN, or 100-pin WLCSP with up to 72 general-purpose I/Os (GPIO). Each can be specified with any of three memory configurations, giving a choice of 256KB Flash and 128KB RAM, 512KB-Flash/256KB-RAM, or 1MB-Flash/256KB-RAM. 

Engineering samples of the STM32WB in packages up to 100-pin WLCSP will begin sampling to lead customers in Q1 2018, priced from $1.56 for high-volume orders.
For more information please visit

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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Modules replace USB connectors with 60GHz wireless links

By Nick Flaherty

Lattice Semiconductor has launched a range of high bandwidth 60GHz wireless connector modules to support broader adoption of the technology in consumer and embedded applications. 

The Snap modules are based on Lattice’s production-proven SiBEAM 60 GHz technology to enable manufacturers to easily integrate short-range, high-speed 60 GHz wireless links into products. To simplify the design process further, Lattice included the Snap modules, which are compliant with regulatory requirements in several jurisdictions, into their Snap evaluation kit for fast prototyping and time-to-market.

“We were seeking a wireless solution that was robust, easy to integrate and wouldn’t require a lot of design support,” said Ehren Achee, CTO at SecuraShot. “Lattice’s Snap modules met all of our expectations, allowing us to develop a more rugged product that can seamlessly support the transfer of data wirelessly without delay.”

The Snap modules offer 12 Gbit/s full-duplex bandwidth at sub-frame latencies allowing it to replace physical USB connectors. By eliminating the connector, the industrial designs of new products can be optimized by making them thinner, lighter, and environment-proof, all while maintaining a robust and high-speed connection. 

To enable faster prototyping for both existing and new customers, Lattice created the Snap Evaluation Kit, which includes the modules, system design guidelines and improved de-bug tools.

“SiBEAM Snap wireless connector technology offers a unique advantage in data transfer for a variety of high volume mobile applications, such as smartphones, tablets and notebooks," said Abdullah Raouf, senior manager at Lattice. "The modules not only accelerate time to market, but will enable 60 GHz technology to be easily integrated into broader consumer and industrial products.”

The modules include fully integrated power regulation, timing, 60 GHz antenna design & regulatory compliance.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Lemonbeat aims to simplify IoT embedded software development

By Nick Flaherty

Lemonbeat in Germany is launching its latest software for the rapid development of intelligent end devices for the Internet of Things (IoT).

At the heart of Lemonbeat’s Studio 2.0 IoT technology is its embedded operating system designed specifically for the Internet of Things (IoT). Integrated into the end device, the system enables users to develop individual applications by combining standardised software modules. This modular approach allows all devices, even sensors which are constrained in power or size, to act as intelligent parts of the network with the devices communicating and interacting directly by means of the use case independent Lemonbeat smart Device Language (LsDL). 

This makes gateways as well as clouds obsolete for controlling the network, says Lemonbeat, integrating edge performance with cloud analytics and device management power.

With Lemonbeat Studio 2.0, software developers and system integrators can configure Lemonbeat OS-compatible sensors and actuators without needing to write a single line of code. Using a simple point and click system, users can easily create and test intelligent behaviours and device interactions within an IoT environment.

In an IoT solution, the behaviour of the device can be modified during live operation. Lemonbeat Studio 2.0 also permits over-the-air (OTA) updates of its firmware.
A new feature in Lemonbeat Studio 2.0 is the “Lemonbeat TestSuite” plug-in. With this plug-in, users can test device configurations systematically and automatically using flexible scenarios. The test scenarios can be run in the Lemonbeat Studio interface or as a console application. The user can also integrate the configurations into existing test environments, such as Jenkins. The results can be output in XML format and exported to other systems.

The company was founded in October 2015 as a wholly owned subsidiary of innogy SE – one of Europe’s largest utility companies with many years of experience in smart home applications. 

Zynq UltraScale+FPGA SoC and IP prototyping platform

By Nick Flaherty

PRO DESIGN is launching three new modules based around the Xilinx Zynq UltraScale+ FPGA to provide an embedded processing platform for the development and verification of SoC and IP designs.

The proFPGA product family is a complete, scalable, and modular multi-FPGA Prototyping solution. 
The new members of this flexible system concept are the ZU11EG, ZU17EG and ZU19EG FPGA modules, which can easily be mounted on the proFPGA uno, duo or quad motherand mixed with other proFPGA modules using Virtex-7, Virtex UltraScale, Virtex UltraScale+ or Kintex UltraScale modules. 

The latest Zynq devices combine FPGA logic with two ARM Multi-Core Processors (Quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 and Dual-core ARM Cortex-R5) and several on-board USB 3.0, Gigabit Ethernet, SATA, Display Port and debug to offer a complete embedded processing platform. Further, the boards already include an on-board DDR4 SODIMM module and a single quad SPI flash.

Nearly all SoC and ASIC designs contain some types of ARM processors. Instead of implementing these ARM cores in the FPGA and occupying important FPGA resources the user can take the proFPGA module which already has two embedded ARM multi-core processors with verified interfaces and memory. 

The module also offers a direct ARM debug interface from which the user can benefit by using the proven ARM® debug environment in combination with the proFPGA prototyping system and by putting the focus on the actual verification of his design.

The new proFPGA modules offer a total of up to 5 extension sites with 531 standard I/Os and 16 multi-gigabit transceivers (MGTs) for extending the board with standard or user specific extension boards, or for easily connecting it to other proFPGA FPGA modules to expand the capacity. The well-designed board is optimized and trimmed to guarantee best signal integrity and highest performance. It allows a maximum point-to-point speed of up to 1.2 Gbps over the standard FPGA I/Os and up to 16.3 Gbps over the MGTs.

"In today's ASIC and SoC designs you almost find always multi-core processors. The verification of these in combination with user designs and required firmware becomes essential and extremely complex. We are proud that with our new proFPGA Zynq UltraScale+ FPGA modules we can provide a complete embedded processing platform at an early stage of the development process which helps our customers to master this challenging task", said Gunnar Scholl, CEO of PRO DESIGN.

The platform comes with the proFPGA Builder software, which provides features such as advanced clock management, integrated self- and performance tests, automatic board detection, I/O voltage programming, system scan and safety mechanism and remote system configuration which only takes seconds, features which simplify the usage of the proFPGA system tremendously.

The proFPGA Zynq UltraScale+ ZU11EG, ZU17EG and ZU19EG FPGA Modules are available from February 2018.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Power news this week

By Nick Flaherty at

. Losses grow at supercapacitor maker Maxwell

. Power trends: Dialog enters the GaN market

. New efficiency record for a large silicon solar cell

. Phase change graphene system harvests thermal energy from day/night cycle

. Reinventing the magnesium battery

. Report flags cybersecurity risks of renewable energy technologies

. IEC power entry modules now meet IEC IEC62368-1 for Audio/Video equipment

. Supervisory circuit monitors system voltage with programmable delay

. IGBT modules with integrated shunts reduce system costs

. Achieving Lowest Power consumption on system level: the RTC module enables it

. Intersil: Inside a new architecture for USB Type-C applications

. Plastic optical fibre for battery management systems in 48 V powertrain architectures

Serial CPCI module with quad-core A72 CPU

By Nick Flaherty

MEN Mikro Elektronik is luanching an ARM-based CPU module in a CompactPCI Serial form-factor for embedded designs later this month.

The G40A uses the NXP ARM quad Cortex A72 LS1046A CPU with NXP data processing accelerators, fast PCI Express 3.0, USB 3.0, SATA Gen. 3 interfaces, Ethernet interfaces on front and an integrated Ethernet switch.

The G40A is a high-performance and low-power multicore CPU platform based on an ARM Cortex A72 processor with 15 year support. Being full-virtualization ready, it was designed for communication-intensive applications in harsh environments, which need high data bandwidth and computing performance, such as data collection applications onboard trains, in industrial or heavy-vehicle applications.

The MEN proprietary board management controller (BMC) monitors the G40A optional parameters such as voltages, temperature and provides a user-configurable watchdog, making it ready for applications where functional safety is required.

The memory configuration of the module includes a fast DDR4 DRAM with ECC soldered to the board to guarantee optimum shock and vibration resistance. A non-volatile SRAM, an eMMC NAND Flash device and a microSD card can also be assembled offering space for user applications or usable as a local boot medium.

The G40A is prepared for use in harsh environments with a tailored heat sink, and all components are soldered for protection against shock and vibration and it is also coated for use in humid and dusty environments.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Google buys Xively IoT network for $50m

By Nick Flaherty

Google is to acquire IoT network Xively, a division of remote management technology developer LogMeIn, for $50m.

By 2020, Gartner estimates that over 20bn connected devices will come online, and analytics and data storage in the cloud are now the cornerstone of any successful IoT solution. This acquisition, subject to closing conditions, will be added to Google Cloud's effort to provide a fully managed IoT service that easily and securely connects, manages, and ingests data from globally dispersed devices. 

Through the acquisition, Cloud IoT Core will gain deep IoT technology and engineering expertise, including Xively’s advanced device management, messaging, and dashboard capabilities. Google customers can benefit from Xively’s flexible device management platform, paired with the security and scale of Google Cloud for data analytics and machine learning.

Related stories:

Saturday, February 17, 2018

First Bluetooth Mesh device taps Cypress chip

By Nick Flaherty

LEDvance, the smart bulb spin-off from Osram, has launched the market’s first Bluetooth mesh qualified LED lighting products using chip technology from Cypress Semiconductor. 

Three Cypress wireless combo chips and the latest version of its Wireless Internet Connectivity for Embedded Devices (WICED ) software development kit (SDK) support the first consumer demonstration of mesh Bluetooth connectivity in the Sylvania Smart+ LED bulbs. Osram spun off LEDvance to a Chinese consortium in 2017.

Previously, users needed to be in the immediate vicinity of a Bluetooth device to control it without an added hub. With Bluetooth mesh networking technology, the devices within the network can communicate with each other to easily provide coverage throughout even the largest homes, allowing users to conveniently control all of the devices via apps on their smartphones and tablets.

“People have become dependent on their mobile devices as integral components of their lifestyles, and they expect to extend this rich user experience in the home through the ability to directly control their connected devices using smartphones,” said Brian Bedrosian, vice president of marketing for the IoT Business Unit at Cypress . “Cypress’ Bluetooth mesh solutions enable this user experience while meeting the rigorous reliability, security and robustness required for a seamless connected media and automation environment. Our wireless solutions also deliver industry-leading coexistence and radio performance, which is essential for uninterrupted connectivity in increasingly crowded home networks. We are excited to see the adoption of Bluetooth mesh in the smart home starting with the debut of the market’s first certified consumer lighting products enabled by our technology.”

Market research firm ABI Research forecasts there will be more than 57 million Bluetooth smart lightbulbs by 2021.

Cypress’ CYW20719, CYW20706, and CYW20735 Bluetooth and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) combo solutions and CYW43569 and CYW43570 Wi-Fi and Bluetooth combo chips offer fully compliant Bluetooth mesh capability. Cypress also offers Bluetooth mesh certified modules and an evaluation kit. The solutions share a common, widely-deployed Bluetooth stack and are supported in version 6.1 of Cypress’ all-inclusive WICED SDK, which streamlines the integration of wireless technologies for developers of smart home lighting and appliances, as well as healthcare applications. 

The WICED Studio IoT development platform includes an SDK with the industry’s most broadly deployed and rigorously tested Wi-Fi and Bluetooth protocol stacks, as well as simplified application programming interfaces that free developers from needing to learn complex wireless technologies. It enables cloud connectivity in minutes with its robust libraries that uniquely integrate popular cloud services such as Amazon Web Services, IBM Bluemix, Alibaba Cloud, and Microsoft Azure, along with services from private cloud partners. WICED also supports iCloud remote access for Wi-Fi-based accessories that support Apple HomeKit which enables hub-independent platforms that connect directly to Siri voice control and the Apple Home app remotely.

Friday, February 16, 2018

ThreadX adds IoT support to RISC-V processor

By Nick Flaherty

Real time operating system vendor Express Logic has ported its X-Ware IoT Platform onto Microsemi’s Mi-V RISC-V instruction set architecture (ISAs) soft processors. 

These open surce cores run on Mircosemi's FPGAs with the Mi-V ecosystem bringing together a number of suppliers involved in the development of RISC-V to streamline such designs.

The X-Ware IoT Platform combines the ThreadX RTOS, the FileX embedded FAT file system, the embedded GUIX UI framework, the NetX/NetX Duo embedded TCP/IP protocol stack, and the USBX embedded USB support for embedded system designs.

In contrast to RISC-V, X-Ware IoT Platform contains no open-source code, provides high performance, with a small footprint. It automatically scales to use only what is needed by the application, making it suited to the smallest low-power IoT devices.

In addition to the performance and size advantages of the X-Ware IoT Platform, Express Logic’s ThreadX, FileX, and NetX Duo have attained high levels of safety certifications. They include IEC 61508 SIL 4, IEC 62304 Class C, ISO 26262 ASIL D, EN 50128 SW-SIL 4, UL 60730-1 Annex H, CSA E60730-1 Annex H, IEC 60730-1 Annex H, IEC 60335-1 Annex R, and IEC 60335-1 Annex R, 1998. It also includes advanced security protocols, including NetX Secure IPsec, TLS, and DTLS.

“With over 6.2 billion ThreadX deployments, we are pleased that Express Logic has expanded its X-Ware IoT Platform support to the Microsemi Mi-V RISC-V ISA for our award-winning PolarFire FPGAs,” said Tim Morin, Director of Strategic Marketing, Microsemi. “This development effort not only supports our needs but also contributes to the entire RISC-V development community. Customers can now select RISC-V for their new designs and have industrial-grade IoT connectivity and security without compromise.”

“Express Logic is pleased to be a foundational part of Microsemi’s Mi-V RISC-V ecosystem,” said William Lamie, President of Express Logic. “Our X-Ware IoT Platform, powered by the industry-leading ThreadX RTOS with over 6.2 billion deployments, is the preferred embedded software platform for all designs requiring industrial-grade run-time solutions, making it an ideal fit for serious products based on the RISC-V architecture.”

Embedded NUC board for IoT designs

By Nick Flaherty

Portwall has developed a small form factor (SFF) embedded system board featuring the Intel Celeron and Pentium Apollo Lake processors with up to 18 graphics execution units enabling enhanced 3D graphics performance and greater speed for 4K encode and decode operations. 

The low power consumption of the WUX-3350 makes it a perfect building block for embeded visual communications and real-time computing applications in medical, digital surveillance, industrial automation, office automation and retail applications.

The embedded system board is designed with a compact footprint (101.6mm x 101.6mm; 4 ̋ x 4 ̋) and features DDR3L SO-DIMM up to 8 GB supporting 1866/1600 MT/s; 6x USB ports; one DisplayPort (DP) and one HDMI with resolution up to 4096 x 2160; one COM port for RS-232 on rear I/O (RJ45 connector); and multiple storage interfaces with 1x SATA III port, 1x microSD 3.0 socket and support for onboard eMMC 5.0 up to 64G. Moreover, it integrates the M.2 interface, which provides wireless connectivity including Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, allowing communication and connectivity for IoT edge devices and designs.

The unit operates with thermal design power (TDP) under 6W/10W for fanless applications. It also supports a wide voltage of power input from 12V to 19V for rugged applications. 

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Design cuts Bluetooth transceiver power in half

By Nick Flaherty

Researchers at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) have developed a Bluetooth Low-Energy transceiver with the lowest ever power consumption for applications in the Internet of Things (IoT).

Figure 1. A photograph of the chip. The chip was designed using standard 65-nanometer CMOS technology.

When transmitting, the transceiver consumes 2.9 milliwatts (mW) and when receiving, it consumes 2.3 mW, less than half the power consumed by previous transceivers (see Table 1).

"Our research grew out of this need for connectivity," said Kenichi Okada of Tokyo Institute of Technology, Japan. "In an IoT world, trillions of devices will be used. To extend battery life and aim for maintenance-free operations, reducing power consumption is vital."

The BLE transceiver has a receiver sensitivity of -94dBm and high interference tolerance of other signals in the 3.4Gz band with the low power. It uses an all-digital phase-locked loop (ADPLL), that is less susceptible to noise compared to its analogue counterpart. The transceiver was designed in a 65nm CMOS process.

In another study focusing on ADPLL, the researchers achieved a figure of merit4 (FoM) of -246dB, one of the best obtained so far. The FoM is an important metric for evaluating the trade-off between performance and power consumption.

In future, Okada says: "The PLL could operate on just 0.65 mW, and studies are underway to reduce our transceiver's power consumption
Table 1. A performance comparison of BLE transceivers

ARM eyes up AI co-processor blocks

By Nick Flaherty

Processor technology developer ARM has developed a suite of IP blocks that includes highly scalable co-processors tor machine learning (ML) and neural networks (NN).

The blocks are initially intended for integration into applications processors for mobile phones, with the first blocks available in April to early adopters. Full rollout will be in the middle of the year. 

Having the blocks scalable allows ARM to move up or down the performance curve – from sensors and smart speakers, to mobile and smart home devices as well as IoT edge devices. 

The Arm ML processor (below) is built from the ground-up, specifically for ML with over 4.6 trillion operations per second (TOPs) with a further boost of 2x-4x in effective throughput in real-world uses through intelligent data management. The power envelope is 3TOPS/W, with a 1 to 2 W profile for the chips.

The family includes the Arm Object Detection (OD) processor. It is a second-generation device, with the first generation computer vision processor already deployed in Hive security cameras. The OD processor can detect objects from a size of 50x60 pixels upwards and process Full HD at 60 frames per second in real time. It can also detect an almost unlimited number of objects per frame.

“The rapid acceleration of artificial intelligence into edge devices is placing increased requirements for innovation to address compute while maintaining a power efficient footprint. To meet this demand, Arm is announcing its new ML platform, Project Trillium,” said Rene Haas, president, IP Products Group, Arm. “New devices will require the high-performance ML and AI capabilities these new processors deliver. Combined with the high degree of flexibility and scalability that our platform provides, our partners can push the boundaries of what will be possible across a broad range of devices.”

Arm NN software, when used alongside the Arm Compute Library and CMSIS-NN, is optimized for NNs and bridges the gap between NN frameworks such as TensorFlow, Caffe, and Android NN and the full range of Arm Cortex CPUs, Arm Mali GPUs, and ML processors. 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

SIL3 certified RTOS targets safety-critical applications

By Nick Flaherty

SEGGER has developed a version of its embOS with certification for safety critical applications.

embOS is SEGGER's signature RTOS with a small footprint, performance, reliability and intuitive API that has been used for more than twenty years in commercial applications. embOS-Safe complies with the functional safety standards IEC 61508 SIL 3 and IEC 62304 Class C (medical devices).

embOS-Safe provides all the embOS key features, including multi-tasking, comprehensive communication and synchronization services, along with full memory protection. The essential certification kit contains all necessary documents, including the comprehensive embOS safety manual, making it easy to integrate it into an application, even those that have not used an RTOS before.

embOS-Safe can be used with SEGGER's cross-platform IDE Embedded Studio, the embOS/IP and emUSB communication stacks, the emFile file system and the emWin graphics package, as well as the J-Link debug probes and Flasher production tools.

IEC 61508 is the standard for functional safety and is referenced in multiple derived standards so that certification for other standards such as ISO 26262 for automotive devices, can be easily implemented.

”Certification is vital to many safety applications. embOS-Safe provides developers with a comprehensive tool to match their safety and reliability requirements,” said Til Stork, embOS Product Manager at SEGGER. “embOS is now certified according to IEC 61508 SIL 3 and IEC 62304 Class C.”

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

First Multi-Band and Multi-Standard Massive MIMO system

By Nick Flaherty

US startup Blue Danube Systems has developed a 5G-ready Massive MIMO system that supports simultaneous beamforming over multiple frequency bands and across multiple cellular standards.

The key to the BeamCraft 600 series is the embedded software that is extendable through cloud-based intelligence to dynamically direct radio beams where mobile traffic is high. Unlike other Massive MIMO systems, they require no change to existing cell sites and are compatible with today’s smartphones and LTE nodes.

The 96-element antenna supports up to two active mid bands using 16 software configurable beams, twice the capacity of the previous generation but still within the same 14in wide form factor. Additionally, an integrated passive low-band option is also available to further conserve antenna mount positions. 

With mobile video driving ever increasing traffic demand, operators have needed to add more cell sites, acquire and deploy additional spectrum, and support multiple wireless standards resulting in more equipment per site and contributing to significant OPEX and CAPEX increases. BeamCraft 600 allows operators to gain an immediate capacity boost using existing network assets by replacing 3G/4G radio and antenna systems with a single unit thereby reducing the equipment on site – in some cases by as much as 66%. 

Blue Danube has deployed active solutions in 3 mid bands to date (AWS, PCS, DCS) and will trial the multi-band BeamCraft 600 in 2Q’18. Additional products supporting higher frequency bands including TDD will be available in 2H’18.

“Blue Danube’s portfolio of Massive MIMO products enables operators to flexibly customize RF energy to optimize capacity, coverage and cell edge performance.” said Mark Pinto, CEO & President of Blue Danube Systems. “Our 5G-ready architecture allows beam-based network management leading to virtualization of the network RF functions. By avoiding the rigidity imposed by other radio architectures, we are enabling a completely flexible RAN ecosystem.”

“With FDD representing at least 85% of the global commercial networks, mid band FDD Massive MIMO solutions will be critical as operators transition to 5G,” said Julian Bright, analyst at Ovum. “The vast majority of the world’s leading operators have multiple 3G and 4G LTE bands in this frequency range. Blue Danube’s multi-band solution offers a compelling upgrade option for current networks, unlocking the potential of operators’ most valuable FDD spectrum asset.”

Blue Danube Systems is a privately held start-up backed by Sequoia Capital and Silver Lake along with other investors including AT&T. 

Transmit-only Bluetooth chip boosts beacon battery life

By Nick Flaherty

Asahi Kasei Microdevices (AKM) has developed a transmit-only Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) chip that enables designs of beacons with longer battery life with lower embedded software development requirements.

BLE beacons are used in various applications such as monitoring systems, loss prevention devices, employee attendance management, and information guidance to smartphones in shops or exhibitions. However there were only BLE SoCs which support both transmitter and receivers that require higher levels of software development.

The AK1594 allows a BLE beacon to be developed using the initial settings and transmission data to the internal EEPROM as there is no microcontroller and no receive path. The device achieves best in class low power consumption in the field and a maximum +6dBm (typ.) output transmission with 9.1uA (typ.) power consumption at 0dBm and an advertising interval of 1sec. 

This opens up the possibility of self powerd beacons using energy harvested either from solar cells or from the body in wearable systems.
It also provides security protection for advertising channel packet using the AES128 encoding that  prevents tracking or cloning of the beacon for spoofing attacks. The various switching actions control transmitter power, interval and powering the transmitter.

Samples are available now and the chip is being used in beacons by Houwa Design Systems of Japan. 

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Intel launches Xeon chip for edge computing

By Nick Flaherty

There is a perception that using the x86 architecture means there is code compatibility all across the chain of the Internet of Things. This after all was behind the Pentium-based Quark processor for wearables and IoT node designs launched back in 2013.

Now Intel has launched a multi-core processor that brings the Xeon architecture down from the data centre to the edge of the network.

The Xeon D-2100 processor is designed for edge applications and other network applications constrained by space and power. The chips will have from 4 to 18 Skylake-server cores and up to 512 GB of addressable memory alongside an integrated Platform Controller Hub (PCH), integrated high-speed I/O and up to four integrated 10 Gigabit Ethernet ports with a thermal design point (TDP) of 60 watts to 110 watts. 

The point of moving these devices ot the edge is that they can run the same instruction set as more robust Intel Xeon Scalable processors to provide software consistency and scale from the data centre. These include Intel's latest Advanced Vector Extensions 512 (AVX-512) thata are used in software for analytics, compute-intensive applications, cryptography, and data compression.
QuickAssist Technology is available as a hardware option up-to 100 Gbps, for growing cryptography, encryption, and decryption workloads for greater efficiency while delivering enhanced transport and protection across server, storage, and network infrastructure.

There is also hardware Virtualization Technology for dynamic provisioning of services as communication service providers extend network functions virtualization (NFV) to the network edge.
Intel's Platform Storage Extensions enable smarter and more cost-effective storage solutions through integrated technologies that accelerate data movement, protect data, and simplify data management while Advanced Encryption Standard New Instructions (AES-NI) accelerates data encryption and decryption for secure websites.

“To seize 5G and new cloud and network opportunities, service providers need to optimize their data center and edge infrastructures to meet the growing demands of bandwidth-hungry end users and their smart and connected devices,” said Sandra Rivera, senior vice president and general manager of the Network Platforms Group at Intel. “The Intel Xeon D-2100 processor allows service providers and enterprises to deliver the maximum amount of compute intelligence at the edge or web tier while expending the least power.”

This will help communications service providers CoSPs offer multi-access edge computing (MEC), which allows software applications to tap into local content and real-time information about local-access network conditions, reducing mobile core network of network congestion. This can enable designs from 5G-connected cars, smart stadiums, and retail and medical solutions.

It can be used for edge storage, Content Delivery Networks (CDNs), enterprise SAN and NAS storage, midrange routers, network appliances, security appliances, wireless base stations and embedded midrange IoT usages, among others.
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Monday, February 12, 2018

First deal for ST and Sequans IoT tracker

By Nick Flaherty

Remo Wireless, a Chinese maker of IoT devices, is the first customer to use the CLOE IoT tracker platform from Sequans and ST Microelectronics for a variety of IoT tracker products for customers in North America, Japan, and China.

CLOE — connecting and locating objects everywhere — combines Sequans’ Monarch LTE-M/NB-IoT (Long-Term Evolution 4G technology) chip with ST’s Teseo III GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) chip in an all-in-one IoT tracker product-development solution for ODMs worldwide.

“We selected CLOE because it delivers the most powerful IoT tracker development solution we’ve seen anywhere by combining the best-in-class technologies from both Sequans and ST,” said Lu Biao, senior marketing and sales director, Remo Wireless. “CLOE is a complete and compact pre-integrated solution that includes LTE-M, MEMS, and GNSS, and can be expanded to include Bluetooth low energy and Wi-Fi in an extremely small form factor. We are developing solutions including asset trackers, pets, and kids’ trackers, on-board diagnosis II (OBDII) devices, and more.”

“Remo Wireless is a very aggressive and successful ODM and our collaboration with them on CLOE is yielding excellent results,” said Danny Kedar, VP, IoT Business Unit, Sequans. “CLOE’s power as a turnkey tracker solution is being put to good use with Remo customers who are designing highly efficient LTE for IoT trackers for several applications.”

“CLOE is a result of our close and efficient cooperation with Sequans, and Remo Wireless is the first ODM to benefit from it,” said Antonio Radaelli, Infotainment BU Director, STMicroelectronics. “The tracker products Remo is developing will benefit from CLOE’s integrated LTE-M and GNSS capabilities that we combined to operate independently at the lowest possible power consumption.”

A turnkey IoT tracker solution for OEMs and ODMs, CLOE integrates a power management unit (PMU), LTE, GNSS, memories and a microcontroller in a 30 x 40 mm package. It can address multiple tracking applications with best-in-class battery life, location accuracy, reachability, mobility, and reporting periodicity. Designed with separated GNSS, LTE-M, and application domain power systems, CLOE allows its GNSS subsystem to continue to track while other domains are shut down, reducng power consumption.

CLOE is available now and is optimized for production based on a full bill of materials that includes LTE, GNSS, accelerometer, power supply, battery management, LED, and button management. The modular design enables copy/paste to optimize BOM cost and is easily customizable.

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Power news this week

By Nick Flaherty for

. Power trends: Dialog enters the GaN market

. UK taps Jaguar Land Rover to head up battery research group

. Rohm opens German power test lab

. Developing FETs from gallium oxide

. US Army leads research on isotopic battery

. Researchers drive up lifetime and stability of perovskite solar cells

. Wider voltages for 3W and 4W smart home and IoT AC-DC converters

. First rad-hard 100V and 200V GaN FETs for space use EPC die

. Modular DC contactors with 500A bidirectional switching

. Achieving Lowest Power consumption on system level: the RTC module enables it

. CUI: Improved Longevity and Performance in DC Fans

. Intersil: Battery management system tutorial