Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Silicon Labs targets wireless SoCs at IoT

Steve Rogerson
May 2, 2019

Texas-based Silicon Labs has introduced the second series of its Wireless Gecko systems on chip (SoCs) designed to make IoT products more powerful, efficient and reliable.
Building on the RF and multiprotocol capabilities of the Wireless Gecko portfolio, series two is claimed to deliver the industry’s most versatile and scalable IoT connectivity platform. The initial series-two products include small-form-factor SoCs with a dedicated security core and an on-chip radio to increase the wireless range.
IoT developers routinely face product design trade-offs around wireless range, power consumption, size, security and cost. The series-two devices are said to simplify IoT product design with integrated SoC options and reusable software that make RF communications more dependable and energy efficient. Developers can optimise system cost and performance for a wide range of smart home, commercial and industrial IoT applications.
“As the adoption and diversity of IoT devices continue to grow, developers seek flexible connectivity that helps them quickly bring differentiated products to market while reducing cost and design complexity,” said Matt Johnson, senior vice president at Silicon Labs. “Series two improves multiple design elements, including wireless performance, software reuse, RF communication reliability and enhanced security to speed development, deployment and adoption of the IoT.”
The first products in series two are the EFR32MG21 SoCs supporting multiprotocol, Zigbee, Thread and Bluetooth mesh networking, and the EFR32BG21 SoCs dedicated to Bluetooth Low Energy and Bluetooth Mesh. These SoCs are suitable for line-powered IoT products including gateways, hubs, lights, voice assistants and smart electric meters.
RF performance includes +20dBm output power and up to +124.5dB link budget. The wireless radio has improved blocking performance.
Processing is through an 80MHz Arm Cortex-M33 core with TrustZone technology.
An active current of 50.9µA/MHz meets green energy requirements, a benefit of manufacturing on 40nm process technology.
The SoCs come in a 4 by 4mm QFN package.
A dedicated security core enables faster, lower-power encryption than software techniques. A true random number generator strengthens device cryptography. Secure boot loading ensures authenticity of firmware images and over-the-air updates. Secure debug access control helps OEMs prevent unauthorised access to end products.
Future pin- and software-compatible series-two SoCs and modules with additional dedicated security technologies could help developers create connected products with more security, helping increase consumer trust and drive mass IoT adoption.