Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Silicon Labs halves power consumption for wifi end nodes

Steve Rogerson
January 31, 2019

Texas electronics company Silicon Labs has expanded its wifi portfolio of modules and transceivers, helping developers create end node products with better power efficiency, RF blocking performance and security for IoT applications.
The Wireless Gecko products are claimed to cut wifi power consumption in half compared with competitive offerings for power-sensitive connected products, including battery-operated IP security cameras, point-of-sale scanners, asset trackers and personal medical devices.
“Our wifi portfolio enables IoT product designs that weren’t possible until now,” said Matt Johnson, senior vice president at Silicon Labs. “IoT developers now have a wifi solution that is truly optimised for their application requirements and addresses their major concerns around power, RF performance, size and security.”
The combination of 138mA transmit current, 48mA receive current and less than 40µA sleep current enables power-savings for IoT use cases. High throughput and fewer retransmissions help reduce power consumption by using less channel capacity.
Built-in security protects IoT products from online and physical hacking, including secure boot with anti-rollback, secure link and implementations of standard encryption such as WPA3.
RF selectivity blocks out adjacent channel noise and maintains throughput and connectivity in crowded RF environments such as smart homes with numerous connected devices.
Gecko OS, an optional IoT operating system, eases design complexity, allowing developers to focus on their wifi applications. Developers can get started in minutes using development tools and a wireless starter kit with embedded and Linux host drivers. The wifi modules are pre-certified for worldwide operation to reduce development time, effort and risk.
The WGM160P module – the portfolio’s latest addition –  is said to provide an easier way to create cloud-connected IoT products by combining an on-board Gecko microcontroller, host support, integrated antenna, precertification, memory (2Mbyte flash and 512k ram), and peripheral capabilities including Ethernet and capacitive touch.
The WFM200 module is the smallest pre-certified wifi system-in-package (SiP) device with an integrated antenna, making it suitable for space-constrained designs. The module also opens up industrial and outdoor applications with +105˚C temperature support.
The WF200 transceiver IC provides a way to add wifi to existing high-volume designs, works well with a variety of hosts ranging from 8bit to Linux-class processors and supports antenna diversity.
Samples and production quantities of the WF200 transceiver in a 4 by 4mm QFN32 package are available now. Samples of the WFM200 in a 6.5 by 6.5mm SiP module are available now, and production quantities are planned for Q2 2019. Samples of the WGM160P in a PCB module are available now, and production quantities are planned for late February.
Silicon Labs has also released Bluetooth software for the Wireless Gecko portfolio. This means commercial, industrial and retail users can enhance their location-based services, such as indoor navigation, asset tracking, space use and point-of-interest engagement, using the direction finding feature added to Bluetooth in the just-introduced version 5.1 of the core specification.
“The Silicon Labs Bluetooth direction finding provides a huge leap in location services accuracy for the industry,” said Johnson. “The combination of the Silicon Labs wireless solution and the new features added in Bluetooth 5.1 will help developers transform industries and improve people’s lives.”