NXP Rolls Out Five Development Platforms for Matter 1.0 Designs
Seeking to provide the embedded IoT “plumbing” needed for smart home devices, NXP has unveiled a set of development platforms for implementing Matter-based designs.
The release of the Matter 1.0 specification earlier this month by the Connectivity Standards Alliance (CSA) opened the door to a new generation of interoperable IoT products that work across brands and platforms, while also adding cohesion to a fragmented smart home market.
All that said, it’s clear that there’s a lot of complexity involved in developing Matter-based IoT implementations—selecting the right wireless protocols and scaling them to connect multiple devices. With that in mind, today NXP Semiconductors announced five new Matter-enabled development platforms.
The Matter 1.0 standard helped tame the fragmented smart home device market. But implementing a Matter-based solution remains a complex challenge.
In this article, we explain how NXP’s new Matter development platforms offer a way to smooth smart home device development based on the Matter standard. We also share perspectives from our interview with NXP Semiconductors’ Sujata Neidig, director, wireless connectivity product marketing and standards, and Neal Kondel, director of product marketing for smart home wireless connectivity solutions.
Matter Solutions to Match Each Use Case
According to Neidig, when NXP was working with the CSA to develop Matter, the company sought to identify the best way to provide solutions that would provide the “plumbing” for developers to take the Matter standard and deploy it. In the process, it mapped out the different device types that are covered in Matter 1.0. These are shown in the chart below.
There are a diverse set of smart home devices that can take advantage of the Matter 1.0 specification.
As the above chart shows, there are a range of devices that are candidates for Matter interoperability. There are a wide range of Matter devices, including motion contact sensors, door locks, thermostats, home hubs, smart speakers, and smart TVs.
“Each of these play different roles in a Matter network,” says Neidig. “They could function as an end modem, they could be always powered on, they could be a Thread border router, or they could implement the Matter controller functionality.” Each of these devices have varying levels of requirements.
The requirements on power consumption, performance and capability range gets more complex the higher up you go. A smart TV, for example, will have a lot more complexity than a light switch. “We've broken it up into three categories where we're providing different architectures and a combination of different compute devices, and options for connectivity devices,” says Neidig. With this framework, NXP developed solutions for these different device types.
Standalone vs MCU-hosted Matter Platforms
NXP separates its Matter development platforms into two types: Standalone and Hosted. In a Standalone architecture, the customer runs their application on the wireless devices. In a Hosted architecture, the customer runs the application on a host system.
According to NXP’s Kondel, two architecture types set the stage for the five development platforms that NXP is announcing today. As shown in the image below, the two standalone platforms are on the left side. On the upper left, this platform, based on NXP’s K32W0x RTOS MCU, is a Matter-over-Thread device. It has Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) or NFC available for commissioning. On the bottom left, this platform, based on NXPs’ MW320 W-Fi MCU, is a device that can run Matter directly, and connects as either a Wi-Fi or a Wi-Fi-over-Matter device.
NXP offers five different Matter development platforms, including options for either standalone or MCU-hosted architecture types.
The little lock symbols in the diagram above indicate the platforms that provide security that's over and above the minimum Matter requirements. “In those platforms, we have our secure elements, or in some cases we call them secure authenticators,” says Kondel. He says that security technology is used by NXP in its digital wallet solutions, so the company adapted it and embedded it in the secure elements and in the processors themselves.
In the middle of the diagram above is NXP’s Matter development platform based on its i.MX RT1060 crossover MCUs, These typically run RTOSes and they have embedded memory. The two Matter development platforms on the right in the diagram are based on an application processor that can run full operating systems like Linux, namely, the i.MX 8M Mini.
The bottom right platform shown in the diagram above leverages NXP’s IW612 Tri-radio, which supports the Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.3, and 802.15.4 protocols. This enables the Matter standard to operate across a range of MCUs and MPUs.
Certified and Tested for a Matter Network
While each of these new development platforms are comprised of pre-existing NXP chips, Kondel emphasizes that NXP is certifying these development platforms to make sure they adhere to the specifications of the Matter 1.0 standard. This is useful both for new customers using these solutions but also for engineers who today already have products based on these chips in systems deployed in the field.
“In those cases, these platforms can be used to bring Matter into their existing application software, get that all tested, and then they can do an Over The Air (OTA) update, for instance, to the field,” says Kondel. That means devices already in homes today can be upgraded to run the Matter without buying a new device.
Kondel makes a point of clarification that these new platforms are currently “in certification” process with the CSA. “We're waiting to get formal process recognition. All the work has been done,” he says.
Taking Care of the Under-the-hood Details
The Matter standard goes a long way to provide robust device interoperability among diverse types of smart home subsystems, both large and small. But developing such implementations is complex, and when they have to work across vendor lines, engineers need all the help they can get.
Perhaps these new Matter development platforms can save developers time, enabling them to craft proof-of-concept prototypes faster, paving the way toward market-ready designs for the smart home.
All images used courtesy of NXP Semiconductors