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IoT Connectivity Picks Up Steam with NXP’s “Industry First” Tri-radio Solution

January 07, 2022 by Jake Hertz

An "industry first" secure tri-radio solution from NXP enables support for Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2, and 802.15.4 simultaneously, helping to ease the development and seamlessly connect IoT (Intenet of Things) devices.

One of the most significant challenges facing IoT technology is the interoperability of devices

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A high-level diagram shows that IoT systems use many devices and resources, many of which require common models, application programming interfaces, and protocols to ensure interoperability. Image used courtesy of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)

 

Essentially, there are millions of IoT devices out in the wild, operating with different hardware and utilizing various communication protocols.

For the truly interconnected IoT future that most of us envision, it will be crucial for these devices to be able to communicate with one another easily. 

To this end, in the wake of CES 2022, NXP has released a new radio solution this week, which claims to be an "industry-first" tri-radio device, supporting Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2, and 802.15.4 simultaneously.

In this article, we'll look at the state of IoT interoperability and dive deeper into this new device from NXP.

 

Matter: An IoT Standard 

To enable interoperability in the smart home IoT world, a consortium of industry leaders announced a platform called "Matter" earlier this year.

 

Overview Matter's main tenets.

Overview Matter's main tenets. Screenshot used courtesy of NXP

 

"Matter" is described as "a single, unified, application-layer connectivity standard" that allows developers to build and connect reliable, secure IoT ecosystems. This standard also aims to increase compatibility among Smart Home and Smart Building devices.

From a high-level perspective, Matter seeks to provide IP-based connectivity leveraging existing internet protocols such as Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), Wi-Fi, and Thread. 

The standard seeks to create more connections between more devices, resulting in simpler development for engineers and more seamless ecosystem integration for consumers. 

The consortium of companies involved in Matter includes: 

  • Google
  • Amazon
  • Samsung 
  • Apple
  • NXP 

Each of these companies claims to bring their unique expertise to the standard. 

As for NXP's contribution, the company seeks to offer end-to-end solutions for Matter-enabled devices, including processing, connectivity, and security.

 

NXP's IW612 Tri-radio Device

This week NXP released its IW612, a secure tri-radio device offering simultaneous support for Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2, and 802.15.4. 

The goal of the IW612 is to improve interoperability in IoT devices by allowing designers to support the protocols on a single piece of hardware. 

In this way, devices can be more versatile for cheaper, leaving the consumer with a more functional and compatible device for their smart home ecosystem.

To achieve this versatility, the IW612 leverages a highly integrated radio frequency (RF) front end consisting of subsystems for each of the three protocols. 

The Wi-Fi subsystem consists of a Wi-Fi MAC (media access control), baseband, a dedicated Wi-Fi CPU (central processing unit), and a direct-conversion radio featuring an integrated power amplifier, low noise amplifier, and transmit/receive switch. 

Separate from the Wi-Fi subsystem, there is also a shared Bluetooth/802.15.4 system, which consists of a shared CPU, a dedicated Bluetooth link layer, an 802.15.4 MAC, and both a Bluetooth 802.15.4 RF front end. 

 

A block diagram of the IW612.

A block diagram of the IW612. Image used courtesy of NXP

 

IW612's hardware supports both single and dual antenna configurations and features several deep-sleep low-power modes for improved system power efficiency. 

Beyond this, the device offers secure boot, debug, and over-the-air firmware updates along with WPA3 security and hardware encryption engines.

 

Keeping IoT Devices Smoothly Connected

As IoT permeates our life more and more, there is a greater need for interoperability. With the IW612, NXP hopes to provide designers with the versatility needed without the design complexity associated with multiple protocol support.

 


 

Interested in more IoT news? Read on in the articles down below.

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