Battery-free WiFi chip IP aims for 180nm process

Battery-free WiFi chip IP aims for 180nm process

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By Nick Flaherty

The backscatter approach uses existing RF signals rather than a dedicated carrier to transmit data using very little energy and without a battery. Each device has an antenna to pick up an existing RF signal and uses it as a power source. It uses that power to reflect the signal, modulated with encoded data. Antennas on other devices detect that signal in a similar way.

HaiLa’s first product is the RLWi4, an RF macro-cell designed for implementation in Globalfoundries’ 180nm CMOS manufacturing process. HaiLa had previously said it’s first product would be available for licensing before the end of 2020.

The RLWi4 is a 2.4GHz ISM band Wi-Fi front-end IP core that uses backscatter to transmit data at up to 1Mbit per second. It is suitable for low power sensor networks, the company said. The RLWi stands for RadioLess Wireless.

The macro is compatible with conventional Wi-Fi networks and synchronizes to, and retrieves data from length-modulated WiFi packages. The macro features a backscattering modulator, power management unit, SPI ports for control and data, and requires a 1.2V supply and a 50MHz system clock during TX, and 5MHz clock during RX.

The core consumes 10uA while transmitting Wi-Fi DSSS signals at 1Mbps and consumes 2uA when synchronizing and receiving data. This makesit suitable for applications in IoT sensor networks in industrial and building automation and in smart homes.

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