Secure triple wireless chip targets Matter hubs

Secure triple wireless chip targets Matter hubs

Technology News |
By Nick Flaherty

NXP Semiconductor has shown a monolithic transceiver that can handle WiFi6, Bluetooth and the emerging Matter and Thread IoT protocols at the CES 2022 show today.

The IW612 is aimed at smart devices that act a hubs such as smart displays and speakers  to connect up sensor nodes using the Matter protocol (formrly Zigbee)and feeding back via WiFi.

“This chip will be the first of many integrations that will solve a lot of the underlying complexities for Matter and other protocols,” said Neal Kondel, Director, Product Marketing for Smart Home Wireless Connectivity Solutions at NXP.

“The IW612 is a transceiver that requires a host but we have added enough security to protect against the threats we think they will face and it’s a balancing act of the security to add versus what the market is willing to pay for it,” he said. “It’s not just a Matter hub, this is a chip that provides it with the latest 802.11ax WiFi. WiFi 6E (at 6GHz) is in the roadmap but not until more of the products are in consumers’ homes.”

The chip is built on a 28nm low power process and has three separate RF chains with two ARM Cortex-M3 microcontroller cores, one for the WiFi chain and one for the Bluetooth and 802.15.4 Matter chain.

“We have completely independent RF subsystems,” said Ryan Kelly, Product Manager for Wireless Connectivity Solutions at NXP. “There is one for WiFi, one for Bluetooth Classic and BT5.2 as well as 802.15.4 and each radio has a dedicated CPU and memory so they are separate from each other to avoid stepping on the other radio. This provides simultaneous receive of all three radios whether using a single or dual antenna. We can do dual transmission WiFI + BT or WiFI + 15.4 with a dual antenna architecture. There’s enough intelligence built into the coexistence to look at the channels. If there is channel overlap, there are rules and priorities with 256 levels that can be set up and dynamically changed depending on the environment and power levels can be changed dynamically – because the coexistence was designed from the ground up for the tri-radio architecture.”

This allows the 2.4GHz WiFi and 2.4GHz Bluetooth or Matter narrowband channels to can transmit at the same time with full power of +20 dBm from the power amplifier, although this can be automatically reduced to +13 dBm for Bluetooth classic, depending on the packets being transmitted.

These are all set through the API to tweak the performance, accessing a hardware engine that is managing the whole chip, not just the traffic streams.

“Having a transceiver allows the flexibility to connect to other chips running an RTOS or Linux but not all devices need that level of processing power,” said Kondel.

Other CES news

Security has been added to the transceiver with 512bits of entropy that can be used as with the PUF feature onboard to create a unique device key with 256bit AES encryption.  

“It has all the crypto and lifecycle management (LCM) for building and testing and OEMs can switch that to their own LCM for deployment and when returned they can erase the keys,” said Kelly.

The part is available as a 9 x 9mm 116-in quad flatpack no lead (QFN) and 4.96 x 4.385 mm 140 I/O chip scale package.

“We expect the WCSP to ship in higher volume than the QFN as the WQFN is typically used by Tier one customers whereas the CSP is focussed on our module partners with a 0.3 pitch and allows us to get the 140 pins and our module partners are able to handle that, ” said Kelly.

“Most of our module makers will only populate the radio element which allows the flexibility to chose a different host and all of our software is pre-validated with our MCUs, and we have demand for a system on module (SOM),” said Kelly.

The chip is sampling now and being demonstrated at CES 2022. “From a customer deployment [point of view] we are expecting to see products by the end of 2022 for CES 2023,” said Kondel.

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