This is great news as it will offer an exceptionally low power solution to help secure the IoT, especially in medical uses. To help developers integrate the ZL70550, Microsemi has also concurrently announced a set of development tools which include a wireless network evaluation kit and an app development kit which we will briefly touch on later.
The extremely thrifty ZL70550 is perfectly positioned to be used in applications where coin-cell batteries or energy harvesters are used and easy battery swaps are required. Some of these applications include medical diagnostics, ECG, process control, and retail asset tracking.
A close up of the ZL70550 CSP package
Francois Pelletier, the product line director at Microsemi is especially optimistic about the ZL70550's potential for medical advances:
"By leveraging the same intellectual property we have successfully developed for implantable pacemakers and hearing aids where power consumption cannot be compromised, we are able to provide the lowest power wireless link in an extremely small form factor that is easy to deploy."
Ok, enough about that stuff, let’s get to some of the juicier bits that the ZL70550 has to offer. This little guy is designed to operate in the unlicensed industrial, scientific, medical, bandwidths of 779-965 MHz which is perfect for the aforementioned applications. While operating within those frequencies it only consumes a paltry 2.8 mA while transmitting at -10dBm and 2.5mA while receiving.
An example of a custom board using ZL70550's
The ZL70550 is also very capable in low duty-cycle applications with a 10 nanoamperes sleep state. The operation window is between 1.7V and 3.6V in addition to offering variable output power for increased application flexibility. Microsemi Corp has also endowed the ZL70550 with up to 200 kbps of data transfer speed. If an increase in wireless range is in order, you can adjust the transmitter output to give a -107dB link budget while keeping the power increase at a minimum.
The wireless network evaluation kit relies on the Z-Star protocol and comes with one USB hub and one accelerometer node. The app development kit comes with a programmable power supply and a USB 2.0 enabled bridge board. Samples and evaluation kits for the ZL70550 are available now in both the 5x5mm QFN and 3x2mm CSP sizes. While we don’t have pricing for the ZL70550 in either size or the App development kit we do know that the ZLE70550BADB WSN evaluation kit is priced at $200. More information on the ZL70550 and related development kits can be found here (PDF).