Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Qualcomm claims power efficiency record with IoT modem

Steve Rogerson
April 21, 2020



Qualcomm has announced what it claims is the world’s most power-efficient NB2 IoT chipset, offering performance improvements for low-power long-life IoT applications.
 
Power efficiency is a top concern for IoT devices that have to last for years in the field. Requiring less than 1µA of sleep current, the Qualcomm 212 LTE IoT modem’s power-efficient chipset architecture allows for low average power consumption. To support a wide range of batteries and longer life span of the device in the field, the modem couples low system-level cut-off voltage with provisions for adapting power usage according to varying source power levels, allowing end devices with power supply levels as low as 2.2V.
 
“The Qualcomm 212 LTE IoT modem will help usher in a new era for a range of IoT applications around the globe, especially those requiring connectivity deep within buildings combined with low power use, like battery-powered IoT devices that need to operate for 15 years or longer in the field,” said Vieri Vanghi, vice president of Qualcomm. “Its ultra-low power consumption, compact form factor and low cost will greatly benefit OEMs creating the next generation of low-power IoT devices.”
 
The modem supports single-mode 3GPP release 14 Cat NB2 IoT connectivity, anticipated to enable extended coverage for delay tolerant applications on RF frequency bands from 700MHz to 2.1GHz for global roaming. Housed in a compact single chip including modem baseband, application processor, memory, RF transceiver with fully integrated RF front end, and power management units, the modem enables LTE modules below 100mm2 in size.
 
Its integration with few external components not only results in a lower cost but is also said to facilitate quicker module design enabling faster commercialisation time for OEMs.
 
Thanks to its integrated Arm Cortex M3 application processor, and the native set of IoT data networking protocols, the modem can enable embedded IoT applications.
 
“The internet of things is an area with great growth potential for wireless connectivity,” said Steve Szabo, global head of IoT platforms at Verizon. "We are excited to see Qualcomm Technologies announce this new chip that offers the world’s highest power efficiency for NB2 IoT connectivity. Together, Verizon and Qualcomm Technologies will lead the way to realising the connected future that IoT promises.”
 
Qualcomm is also launching an SDK for use with the modem. This kit is designed to support developers in running custom software on the integrated applications processor. It expects to offer pre-integrated support for cloud platforms such as the Microsoft Azure IoT SDK.
 
“We’re excited to further extend our collaboration with Qualcomm Technologies to support innovative technologies that connect the intelligent edge and intelligent cloud,” said Roanne Sones, corporate vice president at Microsoft. “From industries like energy to transportation to smart cities, the ability to leverage low-power and low-cost chipsets is a critical part of helping our joint customers deploy new telemetry, tracking and other edge solutions with long battery life while also leveraging our Azure IoT platform and hyper-scale cloud infrastructure.”
 
The global, single-mode modem complements the firm’s multimode 9205 LTE modem, which offers Cat NB2, Cat M1 and GPRS connectivity in addition to GNSS support. Together, the 212 LTE IoT and 9205 LTE modems can address many IoT ecosystem connectivity needs. The 212 LTE IoT modem is expected to be commercially available in the second half of 2020.
 
“Telit has a long-standing relationship with Qualcomm, using its LTE 9205 and 9206 modems to offer our customers the best-in-class cellular connectivity IoT modules,” said Manish Watwani, chief marketing and product officer at Telit. “The Qualcomm 212 LTE IoT modem supports release 14 Cat NB2 IoT connectivity, offering IoT applications extended coverage, improved power consumption and battery life. We are proud to work with a collaborator that continues to provide cutting-edge connectivity like the Qualcomm 212 LTE IoT modem to grow our LPWA portfolio.”
 
Cameron Coursey, vice president at AT&T, added: “The expansion of low-power wide-area networks around the world is opening the door to massive IoT use cases and applications that weren’t possible or practical before. We’re aiming to make that easier for our customers through access to the world’s largest NB-IoT footprint and through a leading-edge modem and chipset portfolio. The Qualcomm 212 LTE IoT modem will help unlock new possibilities for enterprises on NB-IoT networks through efficiencies in cost, power usage and form factor. We look forward to validating the chipset for the AT&T network.”