Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

SiLabs modules add mesh networking to IoT

Steve Rogerson
October 2, 2019



Texas-based electronics company Silicon Labs has launched integrated, secure modules to reduce development cost and complexity, making it easier to add robust mesh networking connectivity to IoT products.
 
The Wireless Gecko series-two modules support Zigbee, Thread and Bluetooth mesh protocols, Bluetooth Low Energy and multiprotocol connectivity. They offer a one-stop wireless option to improve mesh network performance for line-powered IoT systems ranging from smart LED lighting to home and industrial automation.
 
Time to market is a key challenge and a potential competitive advantage for IoT product developers. The pre-certified modules help reduce R&D cycles related to RF design and protocol optimisation, allowing developers to focus on their end applications.
 
Pre-certified for North America, Europe, Korea and Japan, the modules reduce the time, cost and risk factors related to global wireless certifications. The modules can help accelerate time to market by several months.
 
They are based on Silicon Labs’ Wireless Gecko series-two platform featuring RF performance, an Arm Cortex-M33 processor, software stacks, dedicated security core and +125˚C temperature rating suitable for harsh environments. The modules are engineered to optimise the performance of resource-constrained IoT products without requiring functionality trade-offs impacting communication reliability, product security or field upgradability.
 
An integrated RF power amplifier also makes them suitable for long-range Bluetooth Low Energy applications requiring hundreds of metres of line-of-sight connectivity.
 
“This new portfolio of application-optimised modules provides a fast and easy wireless on-ramp to mesh networking, helping IoT developers get their connected products to market ahead of the competition while preserving their investments in tools and software,” said Matt Saunders, vice president at Silicon Labs. “Our fully integrated module design, comprehensive wireless stacks, state-of-the-art security and powerful development tools help our customers add wireless connectivity and mesh capabilities to IoT applications with the lowest R&D investment, saving months of engineering effort and testing.”
 
The portfolio includes the claimed industry’s first pre-certified wireless modules optimised for LED light bulbs and a PCB form-factor module designed to meet the needs of a broad range of ultra-small IoT product designs.
 
The modules for LEDs combine a custom form factor to ease mounting inside LED bulb housings, PCB trace antenna to increase wireless range, high temperature ratings, global regulatory certifications and low active power consumption.
 
The PCB form factor integrates chip antenna and low clearance areas for mechanics, simplifying space-constrained IoT designs including smart lighting, HVAC, building and factory automation systems.
 
Features in the modules help developers implement security in IoT products. Secure boot with root of trust and secure loader technology helps prevent malware injection and rollback to ensure authentic firmware execution and over-the-air updates. A dedicated security core isolates the application processor and delivers cryptographic operations with differential power analysis countermeasures.
 
A true random number generator compliant with Nist SP800-90 and AIS-31 strengthens device cryptography. A secure debug interface with lock and unlock allows authenticated access for enhanced failure analysis. The Arm Cortex-M33 core integrates TrustZone technology, enabling system-wide hardware isolation for trusted software architectures.
 
Developers can further accelerate time-to-market with Silicon Labs’ Simplicity Studio integrated development environment featuring software stacks, application demos and mobile apps. Software tools including a patented network analyser and energy profiler help developers optimise the wireless performance and energy consumption of IoT applications.
 
Samples and production quantities of the xGM210P PCB modules are available now. Samples and production quantities of the xGM210L LED modules are planned to be available in before the end of the year. The Wireless Gecko starter kit mainboard and series-two radio boards are also available now.