Silicon Labs’ SoCs Grow Protocol Support—Adding Wi-SUN, Wi-Fi 6, and More
The Internet of Things will have a much larger scope thanks to recently-announced products from Silicon Labs.
On Sept. 13, Silicon Labs announced four new products to its Series 2 family to further advance the integration of the Internet of Things (IoT): Matter development solutions; the Silicon Labs Pro Kit for Amazon Sidewalk; a new SoC and power amplifier for Wi-SUN; and a Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth LE SoC family.
Block diagram of the EFR32FG25. Image used courtesy of Silicon Labs. (Click image to enlarge)
For smart home devices, SoCs with Matter 1.0 and Wi-Fi 6 compatibility offer improved connectivity and interoperability. Smart city solutions using Wi-SUN hardware will allow developers to fully integrate thousands of smart devices across vast distances in an urban environment.
In this article, we'll highlight the three flagship hardware devices from Silicon Labs' release: the EFR32FG25 SoC and EFF01 front-end module for Wi-SUN and the SiWx917 Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth LE SoC family.
Matter 1.0 and Wi-Fi 6 SoC Makes Interoperable Smart Homes
In the past, developers integrated support for various protocols, so smart devices could operate in multiple ecosystems. However, these separate connectivity blocks increase financial and time costs while also taking up board space. The Matter standard is designed to integrate all IoT devices in a smart home. Wi-Fi 6 also improves the connectivity of multiple devices by using multi-user-MIMO beamforming, which directs energy transmission in various directions for simultaneous connections.
MU-MIMO beamforming in the context of Wi-Fi 6. Image used courtesy of Qualcomm
Made available earlier this year, the Silicon Labs EFR32MG24 SoC supports the Matter standard over Thread and provides up to a 200-meter indoor range. In addition, if developers want to include Matter connectivity over Wi-Fi, the MG24 may be combined with the RS9116 Wi-Fi transceiver modules to develop Matter solutions using Wi-Fi 4.
Silicon Labs' SiWx917 SoC is the company's first Wi-Fi 6 solution. In addition to being Matter-ready, the SiWx917 offers considerable advantages compared to traditional Wi-Fi 5 services, Silicon Labs claims. These features include beamforming, MU-MIMO, OFDMA, and many more, all of which improve the performance and speed of many connected devices simultaneously.
New Wi-SUN Hardware Paves the Way for Smart Cities
Unlike typical IoT applications in the home or workplace, smart cities require not only fast and efficient communication but also support for long-range data transfer. As a result, typical IoT protocols leveraging Wi-Fi, Bluetooth LE, or Thread are no longer the ideal candidates. The Wi-SUN protocol, on the other hand, utilizes sub-GHz frequency bands, which promote greater communication distances and make 2.4-GHz interference from Wi-Fi a non-issue.
Silicon Labs, a long-time supporter of Wi-SUN technology, has announced the FG25 SoC and the EFF01 RF front-end module (FEM). Working in tandem, these new chips support high-level integration in even the densest urban environments.
EFF01 FEM block diagram with the FG25 SoC. Image used courtesy of Silicon Labs
The FG25 SoC (datasheet here) transmits up to 16 dBm in the sub-GHz range, supporting various modulation formats compatible with the Wi-SUN protocol. The FG25 can also operate on a single coin-cell battery for up to 10 years, making it a worthwhile candidate for low-power applications.
Coupled with the FG25, the EFF01 RF FEM allows developers to maximize the range of their networks. The EFF01 acts as an intermediate stage between the transceiver and antenna, offering improved sensitivity and power output thanks to its analog RF stages. The EFF01's integrated power amplifier can boost the transmit power to 30 dBm, while the integrated low-noise amplifier improves the receiver’s sensitivity and allows it to operate with minimal data loss at a range of up to 3 km.
Finally, to further reduce the time to market, Silicon Labs has released a reference solution for a Wi-SUN field-area network (FAN) border router.
Silicon Labs Hones in on Interoperability
At Silicon Labs' opening keynote of its annual Works With Developer Conference, CEO Matt Johnson explained that by 2025, there will be approximately 27 billion connected IoT devices—three or four devices per person. The new products in Silicon Labs' Series 2 offerings are designed to support the entire protocol ecosystem for peak interoperability and security—including Matter, Amazon Sidewalk, Wi-Fi 6, and Wi-SUN.