The IoT, or Internet of Things, is a part of the tech industry that is finding increasing utility across applications. While Wi-Fi-enabled devices have been around for at least 20 years, they were previously only commonly available in larger form factors, such as laptops and computers. However, the growth of the IoT has included a massive boom in integrating Wi-Fi solutions into almost any product imaginable, including light fixtures, cars, and even appliances like toasters.
As Wi-Fi is integrated into portable devices, designers have to take several considerations into account:
- Power: Keep the power consumption as low as possible.
- Security: Ensure that data cannot be stolen and the device is secure from outside threats.
- Time-to-Market: An IoT platform should be quick to develop on.
- Speed: The data rate should be as high as possible.
With these pillars of IoT development in mind, Silicon Labs has introduced a new series of Wi-Fi modules.
All images used courtesy of Silicon Labs
Introducing Silicon Labs Wi-Fi Portfolio
This week, Silicon Labs announced their latest Wi-Fi portfolio which includes the WGM160P, the WFM200, and the WF200.
The aim of their latest Wi-Fi portfolio is to provide designers with low power consumption, improved security, improved development tools, and increased bandwidth.
- Power saving is achieved with a transmission current of only 138mA, a reception current of 48mA, and sleep current of less than 40μA. Power consumption is also further lowered by the use of better RF blocking (see below)
- Improved RF blocking allows the Wi-Fi modules to better reject noise from other Wi-Fi channels and therefore increase overall bandwidth. The increase in bandwidth also helps to lower power consumption as transmission times are significantly reduced. The improved RF blocking also allows for better performance in environments that contain many Wi-Fi sources and helps to keep through-put high
- Security in the Silicon Labs range of devices is one of the industries best with an array of built-in features including secure boot, anti-rollback, secure link, and efficient implementations of standard encryption techniques such as WPA3
- Development on the Wi-Fi portfolio is improved with the use of Gecko OS (an optional featured-packed IoT OS), comprehensive development tools, and even pre-certified options which can drastically help designers when conforming to FCC and CE regulations
The WGM160P is an integrated SoC which includes a Gecko microcontroller with a 32-bit ARM Cortex M4 processor, 2MB flash memory, 512kB RAM, timers, I/O ports including I2C, UART, SPI, CAN, and USB, and several analog interfaces including an ADC, IDADC, comparator, and low energy LCD controller.
The integrated solution also has an integrated antenna which removes the need for a PCB trace or external antenna, internal clock management, energy management including a voltage regulator, and a security module that includes a CRC and true random number generator.
The WF200 is a Wi-Fi co-processor for connecting to external microcontrollers and microprocessors that otherwise require a separated Wi-Fi module. The WF200 includes all the required parts for Wi-Fi functionality but requires the use of an external RF antenna (two RF ports are available for this).
WF200 block diagram
The module also includes power control, clock control, a CPU subsystem, I/O control, as well as various security features such as secure boot and encryption for environments where security is important. The WF200 transceiver is intended to aid power-conscious designers who want to minimize power consumption without sacrificing Wi-Fi functionality.
The WFM200 is similar to the WF200 in that it is a Wi-Fi transceiver but it is the smallest of the Wi-Fi products, which makes it suitable for space-constrained designs. The device is capable of operating in temperatures of up to 105°C and includes an integrated antenna which further reduces the PCB retail needed.
Exploded view of the WFM200
The module also includes an integrated crystal and matching network, contains all the standard security features such as WPA3, WPA2, WPS, and WFD, one-time-programmable memory, SDIO and SPI, GPIO, and a host of security features including secure boot, encrypted host interface, secure key storage, and AES/WEP hardware acceleration
Are you working on a design that requires Wi-Fi connectivity? What do you look for in a Wi-Fi module? Share your experiences in the comments below.
- Internet of Things, 5G, and Cybersecurity Dominate CES 2019
- News Brief: Microchip Releases AVR-IoT WG Development Board
- Newest Dialog Semiconductor PMIC Tackles Big IoT Design Issue: Extending Battery Life for Wearables
- Arm Announces Pelion IoT Platform, Combining Mbed Device Management with Data Management
- Sensors for IoT, Robotics, and Mobile: ams Optical Imaging Sensors Roundup