Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Texas Instruments breakthrough could transform big data

Steve Rogerson
March 5, 2019

Texas Instruments has made improvements to an old technology to solve the problem of moving vast amounts of data from the edge of IoT networks. At last week’s Embedded World in Nuremberg, it announced two devices using bulk acoustic wave (BAW) technology for connectivity and communications infrastructure.
“BAW technology has been around for some time and is used for filtering,” said Ray Upton (pictured), vice president of Texas Instruments. “We have now done some interesting innovations around BAW, some of the greatest innovations in industry looking at big data.”
The first two devices developed with the BAW technology are the SimpleLink CC2652RB wireless microcontroller (MCU) and the LMK05318 network synchroniser clock. These could help system designers streamline design logistics for faster time to market, while enabling stable, simplified and high-performance data delivery, which allows for potential overall development and cost savings.
“The IoT is gathering vast amounts of data at the edge of the network,” said Upton. “The amount of data in factory and building automation is vast. We have to move those big data and make informed decision based on the information.”
Communications and industrial automation systems with discrete clocking and quartz-crystal devices can be costly, time-consuming and complicated to develop and are often susceptible to environmental stress. The devices with the BAW resonator technology integrate reference clocking resonators to provide a high frequency in a small form factor.
This integration improves performance and increases resistance to mechanical stresses, such as vibration and shock. As a result of stable data transmission enabled by BAW technology, data synchronisation of wired and wireless signals is more precise and allows for continuous transmission, which means data can be processed quickly and seamlessly to increase efficiency.
At Embedded World, TI demonstrated how designers working on data transfer, building and factory automation, and grid infrastructure equipment could use this technology to develop higher performing systems while reducing cost, size and design complexity.
“Clocking is a fundamental limiter to moving data,” said Upton. “Quartz crystals are at the heart of that limitation. This caused us to spend time on BAW. BAW lets us create designs at a low cost and small size. BAW is less bulky than quartz and has a much higher performance clock signal. It has the potential to be a game changer in the way systems are clocked.”
As the industry’s first crystal-less wireless MCU on the market, the CC2652RB integrates a BAW resonator within a quad flat no-lead package, eliminating the need for an external high-speed 48MHz crystal. It is said to be the lowest power multi-standard device supporting Zigbee, Thread, Bluetooth Low Energy and proprietary 2.4GHz connectivity on a single chip. It works in the -40 to +85˚C temperature range, unlike many crystal-based products.
Using a BAW resonator, the single-channel network synchroniser clock for 400Gbit/s links helps systems transmit more data faster while also providing higher margin for jitter budgets. With low jitter and the claimed industry’s best hitless switching performance, the LMK05318 delivers low bit errors for 56Gbit/s and emerging 112Gbit/s pulse-amplitude modulation.
“We have taken the approach of working on fundamental technology to enable crisp and clean data and moving them at a rate that has never been seen before,” said Upton. “We are delivering an absolute breakthrough for clocking technology for IoT applications.”
TI’s BAW resonator technology sandwiches piezoelectric material. These layers capture the energy created when a frequency is introduced into the device, making the mechanical structure vibrate. The key properties of the BAW resonator are set to store increased acoustic energy within the structure, achieving a high electrical Q.
Preproduction samples of the CC2652RB are available in a 7 by 7mm VQFN package. Developers can get started with the SimpleLink CC2652RB wireless MCU-based TI LaunchPad development kit.
The LMK05318 is available in production quantities in a 48-pin, 7 by 7mm VQFN package. Developers can evaluate this device with the LMK05318 evaluation module.