New Wireless Gecko Bluetooth 5-Compliant SoCs Help Developers Tackle Multiprotocol Design Challenges

March 16 2017, 04:00
Silicon Labs announced a major expansion of its Wireless Gecko system-on-chip (SoC) portfolio, making it easier for developers of all skill levels to add versatile multiprotocol switching capabilities to increasingly complex applications. The new EFR32xG12 SoCs support a broader range of multiprotocol, multiband use cases for home automation, connected lighting, wearables and industrial applications. 

The new Silicon Labs' EFR32xG12 SoCs deliver superior RF performance, enhanced cryptography acceleration, larger memory options, on-chip capacitive touch control, and additional low-power peripherals and sensor interfaces.

Wireless Gecko SoCs support zigbee and Thread mesh networking, Bluetooth 5 and proprietary wireless protocols. Silicon Labs has optimized its wireless protocol stack architecture to enable efficient switching between different network protocols. For example, device makers can now use a single chip to commission and configure devices over Bluetooth with a smartphone, and then join a zigbee or Thread mesh network to connect to dozens or even hundreds of end nodes.

"The EFR32 Wireless Gecko portfolio is the most versatile, feature-rich multiprotocol platform available today," says Daniel Cooley, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Silicon Labs' IoT products. "We continue to enhance the Wireless Gecko platform with new hardware and software capabilities that advance multiprotocol connectivity and address the real-world requirements of IoT products."

The Wireless Gecko portfolio offers high output power (up to +19 dBm), reducing system size, cost and complexity by eliminating the need for an external power amplifier. EFR32xG12 SoCs also offer exceptional sensitivity in the 2.4 GHz band (-102.7 dBm for zigbee and Thread and -95 dBm for Bluetooth low energy) as well as improved sub-GHz performance for applications using proprietary protocols. The combination of highest RF output power and best sensitivity enables excellent wireless range, greater reliability and improved battery life for wearable applications.

EFR32BG12 Blue Gecko SoCs feature a 2 Mbps Bluetooth PHY, providing ample throughput for applications running a Bluetooth 5-compliant stack, improving co-existence with other wireless protocols. For security, the EFR32xG12 SoCs include a second on-chip security accelerator dedicated to the multiprotocol radio and a NIST-certified true random number generator (TRNG). This additional hardware cryptography block runs the latest security algorithms with higher performance and lower power than conventional software implementations.

EFR32xG12 SoCs offer four times more flash memory (up to 1024 kB with a dual-bank architecture) and eight times more RAM (up to 256 kB) than previous-generation Wireless Gecko devices. This significant memory expansion makes it easier to develop complex, feature-rich applications supporting multiple protocol stacks, real-time operating systems such as Micrium OS, backup images for devices and over-the-air (OTA) updates for field upgrades to extend the life of products.

The SoCs' expanded set of digital and analog peripherals gives developers greater design flexibility and the ability to connect additional components, such as sensors. An autonomous capacitive sensing controller provides direct support for cap-touch interfaces in IoT products, without the cost and complexity of adding external controllers.

EFR32xG12 Wireless Gecko SoC samples and production quantities are available now in 7 mm x 7 mm QFN48 packages, as well as 65-GPIO 7 mm x 7 mm BGA options for feature-rich applications requiring a large number of I/Os. Full-featured development kits, supporting all protocols, are also available. The Wireless Gecko portfolio is supported by Silicon Labs' full suite of Simplicity Studio development tools, available to developers free of charge.
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