The stack is available as a free download for users who have purchased and registered any of the company’s development kits for wireless networked products. The company sees the move as one that will help to unify a fragmented market, "as we move to a situation where the home has a completely IP-based environment, with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and 15.4 wireless solutions in use, each being applied where they are most appropriate."
The need for totally reliable networking in this context is paramount, the company says, "you cannot move a thermostat or a lighting control around the room to ‘get a better signal’ – anything less than 100% response [in this market sector] is ‘broken’ and is a product return." Accordingly, and while asserting that its protocol stack will produce the most-reliable results available, Silabs has bundled network analysis tools to help track down any failed or missing data packets, and to identify where a network might be falling short of ideal. You can use the analysis tools yourself, or you can save a log file that can be examined by Silabs’ applications support team.
Thread technology fills a gap in the IoT ecosystem, Silabs says, by providing the first standards-based, low-power mesh networking solution based on Internet protocol (IP), enabling reliable, secure and scalable Internet connectivity for battery-powered devices in the connected home. As a founding member of the Thread Group and the chair of the Group’s technical committee, Silicon Labs has been instrumental in defining and developing the Thread specification introduced by the Group.
The stack will work with any of Silabs’ mesh networking SoCs: the combination of Silicon Labs’ Thread stack, EM35xx wireless SoC platform, and hardware and software tools provides, says the company, developers with a seamless migration path from ZigBee to Thread via over-the-air (OTA) upgrades. Silicon Labs’ hardware and software roadmap will enable multi-protocol, multi-band 2.4 GHz and sub-GHz wireless connectivity for the IoT.
Silicon Labs’ Thread solution promises a simple, secure and scalable way to wirelessly interconnect hundreds of connected home devices and to seamlessly bridge those devices to the Internet. Thread software provides a self-healing, IPv6-based mesh network capable of scaling to 250+ nodes with no single point of failure.
The protocol provides extensive support for "sleepy" end nodes to enable years of low-energy operation using a single battery as well as simplified commissioning. Users can add nodes to a network using a smartphone or browser. Silicon Labs’ Thread stack uses banking-class, end-to-end security to join nodes to the network and proven AES-128 cryptography to secure all networking transactions.
Silicon Labs’ AppBuilder is the tool for development of IP-based mesh networking applications. AppBuilder enables developers to configure mesh networking applications for Thread protocol using Silicon Labs’ application framework, which isolates application code with a set of call backs and plugins, making the developer’s software portable and reusable across supported wireless SoCs in Silicon Labs’ portfolio. It is accompanied by the Desktop Network Analyzer tool that, unlike traditional wireless sniffers, provides complete visibility of all wireless networking activity by using the unique packet trace port available in Silicon Labs’ mesh networking SoCs.
Silicon Labs’ Thread software stack and sample application are available at no charge to customers with registered EM35x-DEV development kits. EM35x-DEV kits provide a common platform for both ZigBee and Thread development, allowing customers to address multiple markets.
Thread modules are available now from Silicon Labs’ ecosystem partners including California Eastern Labs (CEL) and Telegesis. Silicon Labs’ new RD-004-0201 Thread border router reference design is planned for release at the end of July 2015. The initial software release for the border router will demonstrate end-to-end IPv6 connectivity and include application sample code to accelerate development.
Silicon Labs: www.silabs.com