IoT Modules and Dev Kits Enable Low-power, Edge Device Designs
Serving up low-power wireless connectivity, high-performance computing, and comprehensive development resources, this batch of IoT modules, SoCs, and dev boards smooth the way for IoT system designers.
The challenges of developing Internet-of-Things (IoT) implementations keep evolving. There seems no end to the drive for lower power, more edge intelligence, and more robust connectivity.
To help engineers keep pace, several chip and module vendors have upped their game, rolling out new SoCs, modules, and development boards aimed at IoT designs. In this article, we roundup some of those recent products, and examine their key features.
Partnership Results in IoT Solderable Module
Because IoT requires a mix of technology expertise, IoT modular solutions are often the result of industry partnerships. Exemplifying that trend, InnoPhase IoT recently announced a collaboration with IoT module provider Eoxys and microcontroller (MCU) vendor Nuvoton. Together, the companies developed the Eoxys' Xeno + Nano ML module.
The Xeno + Nano ML is a solderable IoT module that sports a Talaria TWO low power Wi-Fi and BLE 5.0 device and a NuMicro M2354 secure IoT MCU. Image used courtesy of InnoPhase IoT
The module embeds the Talaria TWO low power Wi-Fi and BLE 5.0 device from InnoPhase IoT and Nuvoton's NuMicro M2354 secure IoT MCU. The purpose of the module is to help engineers speed deployment of IoT sensor-based products. They can make use of the modules’ intelligent compute resources, security, wireless connectivity in order to focus on adding their own sensors and their application-specific software.
Talaria TWO is a multi-protocol Wi-Fi and BLE 5 device based on the company’s PolaRFusion scheme. PolaRFusion takes a digital polar approach to RF radio design. According to the company, this shrinks battery usage by 2x to 8x compared to current Wi-Fi products and enables a connected-sensor battery life of over 10 years, says InnoPhase.
Importantly, the Xeno + Nano ML is a soderable module, meaning engineers can treat it like a component, soldering it directly onto their board. The Nuvoton Arm core-based NuMicro M2354 MCU provides security with support, with security certification in progress (PSA Certified Level 3 expected). According to InnoPhase IoT, the Talaria TWO’s RF radio’s high data transfer rates of Wi-Fi eliminates the need for an additional gateway device, providing a less complex and lower cost.
Example IoT applications for the Xeno + Nano ML module include audio sensing, machine, asset, and event monitoring, secure POS terminals, and predictive maintenance. The module is available for purchase now from Eoxys.
SoC and Dev Kit Target Wi-Fi 6 Compatible IoT
For its part, Nordic Semiconductor’s latest IoT development focuses on Wi-Fi 6. The company recently announced the availability of its nRF7002 Wi-Fi 6 companion IC and its associated nRF7002 development kit (DK). Nordic says the low power Wi-Fi 6 companion IC provides seamless dual band (2.4 and 5 GHz) connectivity.
Engineers can use the nRF7002 IC together with Nordic’s nRF52 and nRF53 Series multiprotocol SoCs and the nRF9160 cellular IoT (LTE-M/NB-IoT) system-in-package (SiP). All that said, the new chip can also be used with non-Nordic host devices.
The support for Wi-Fi is significant for IoT because of its power efficiency gains for battery powered Wi-Fi operation, and its ability to manage large IoT networks comprising hundreds of devices, says Nordic. Applications include smart-home devices, industrial sensors, asset trackers, and wearables
The dual-band nRF7002 IC complies with Station (STA), Soft Access Point (AP), and Wi-Fi Direct operation, and meets the IEEE 802.11b, a, g, n (“Wi-Fi 4”), ac (“5”), and ax (“6”) Wi-Fi standards. Nordic claims the device offers excellent coexistence with Bluetooth LE, Thread, and Zigbee.
The nRF7002 supports Target Wake Time (TWT), which is a key Wi-Fi 6 power saving feature. A host processor can link to the chip via Serial Peripheral Interface (SPI) or Quad SPI (QSPI). The device provides a single spatial stream, 20 MHz channel bandwidth, 64 QAM (MCS7), OFDMA, up to 86 Mbps PHY throughput, and BSS coloring.
The nRF7002 DK development board provides an nRF7002 IC and an nRF5340 multiprotocol SoC as a host processor for the nRF7002. Image used courtesy of Nordic Semiconductor
Meanwhile, the nRF7002 DK development kit includes an nRF7002 IC and an nRF5340 multiprotocol SoC as a host processor for the nRF7002. The nRF5340 is based on a 128 MHz Arm Cortex-M33 application processor and a 64 MHz high efficiency network processor.
The dev kit includes Arduino connectors, two programmable buttons, a Wi-Fi dual-band antenna and a Bluetooth LE antenna, and current measurement pins. The nRF7002 companion IC and nRF7002 DK are available now.
SiP Modules Serve Up Qualcomm SoCs
Leveraging the processing muscle of Qualcomm’s advanced heterogenous compute architectures, the latest IoT solutions from Lantronix are an expansion of its Open-Q family. The company recently announced its entry-level Open-Q 2290CS and mid-tier Open-Q 4290CS system-in-package (SIP) chipset modules along with the companion Open-Q AL2 development kit. The two SIP modules are footprint compatible, allowing for flexibility in hardware design choice.
The entry-level Open-Q 2290CS (shown) and mid-tier Open-Q 4290CS are based on Qualcomm’s QCS2290 and QCS4290 SoCs respectively. Image used courtesy of Lantronix
The Open-Q 2290 SIP is based on Qualcomm’s QCS2290 SoC, with on-board audio codec, 2 GB of LPDDR4 memory, 16 GB of eMMC, pre-certified Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth. It boasts a 35 mm x 35mm LGA package that is well suited for industrial IoT applications. Examples include handhelds, panels, POS/kiosks, vending machines, exercise equipment, and camera systems.
Meanwhile, the Open-Q 4290 SIP is designed for advanced AI vision applications and is based on the QCS4290 chipset from Qualcomm. The module is a Wi-Fi 5 solution, but offers some Wi-Fi 6 features such as TWT and 8SS.
Engineers can use the Open-Q AL development kit for rapid prototyping of products that require advanced imaging and computer vision. The kit comprises separate hardware modules connected by high-speed and low-speed connectors. Interestingly, it is compliant with the 96Boards standard for open hardware mezzanine expansion boards. The same development kit is compatible with the Open-Q 4200 and 2200 SIP families.