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 Wireless microcontrollers

According to Babu, “There are several standard off-the-shelf wireless MCUs available

Fig. 3: The massive MIMO testbed at Lund University in Sweden is based on USRP RIO (Source: National Instruments)
Fig. 3: The massive MIMO testbed at Lund University in Sweden is based on USRP RIO (Source: National Instruments)

currently, which the designer can use to quickly implement wireless solutions.” The recently introduced wireless MCUs based on BLE technology are suitable for systems that have ultra-low-power consumption requirements. These MCUs support different data transfer rates like 250kbps, 500kbps, 1Mbps and 2Mbps, and have good blocking performance and a receiver sensitivity of about -94dBm at 1Mbps. Such MCUs enable long-range applications without any external front-end. These have hardware debug support and provide retention to all the relevant registers in all the power modes.

Then there are wireless MCUs suitable for applications related to IoT. This family of MCUs has built-in support for security protocols. Mrinmoy Purkayastha, vice president-Marketing, Calsoft Labs, says, “Security is a very important element in IoT and M2M communications. Devices with embedded hardware accelerators that support different security standards are valuable to build products that are reliable and power-efficient.” This family of MCUs is well suited for such applications as heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC), power-line communication, refrigerators and smart e-meters.

Praveen Ganapathy, director-Processor & Connectivity Applications, TI (India) says, “Design engineers can now design using a single-chip MCU with built-in Wi-Fi connectivity. TI has created a wireless MCU for the Internet of Things, that integrates a high-performance ARM Cortex-M4 MCU, allowing customers to develop an entire application with a single IC. With on-chip Wi-Fi, Internet and robust security protocols, no prior Wi-Fi experience is required. The Wi-Fi network subsystem includes an 802.11 b/g/n radio, baseband and MAC with a powerful crypto engine for fast, secure Internet connections and 256-bit encryption. The Wi-Fi Internet-on-a-chip includes embedded transmission control protocol (TCP)/Internet protocol (IP) and transport layer security (TLS)/secure sockets layer (SSL) stacks, hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP) server and multiple Internet protocols.”

Smart sensors
The smart and intelligent sensors help reduce the installation and system costs. These increase system flexibility, simplify system deployment and address a new set of applications that was previously impossible with a wired approach. The sensors allow the engineers to design a system with benefits without any compromise in the system’s reliability and measurement quality. Wireless sensors make the end product excitingly useful for the users.

6ZB_Table_1

The low-power ZigBee standards are basically optimised to the needs of the wireless sensor networks and thus offer self-healing mesh networking option along with robust self organising, low cost and complexity, the large extent of scalability and an excellent battery life. The smart sensors are also supporting wireless communication in smart meter and advanced meter infrastructures (AMI), opening up a wide scope of designing options for the engineers.

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