TI launches WiFi companion chips

TI launches WiFi companion chips

New Products |
By Nick Flaherty

Texas Instruments has developed a family of low cost WiFi companion chips based around dual ARM cores.

The CC3300 and CC3301 are intended to be added to microcontrollers and microprocessors in embedded designs to provide WiFi6 and a combination of WiFi and Bluetooth Low Energy 5.3 respectively. The chips also include security support.

“These were designed from scratch to make WiFi more robust and more affordable,” said Marian Kost, VP of connectivity at TI. He points particularly to chargers for electric vehicles, where connectivity needs to be reliable across a wide temperature range. The devices support -40 to +105C, as well as building automation, electricity grid, medical designs and home appliances. Pricing starts at $1.60.

The key is reliability in congest radio environments, he says. “Getting there is not without challenges in a more and more dense environment,” said Kost. “If you add more wireless nodes you have to make sure you have good wireless performance and robust connections across the temperature range and all kinds of cross talk.”

“We hear a lot about security and this plays a major role. When we are looking at billions of devices rolling out in a single year the security of the data is extremely important and this means we have to provide a lot of tools for developers so the ease of use aspect is a big consideration to make sure the WiFi chips can be attached to any embedded system quickly and easily.”

TI has a wide range of wireless chips and supports the Matter protocol for appliances.

“Coexistence is vital,” he said. “We support 14 different wireless technologies and so we do not just look at the WiFi in an isolated manner.”

The chips are based around dual ARM Cortex M3 and M4 cores, although these are not available to developers. Instead any additional protocols such as Matter would be run on the attached microprocessor or microcontroller.

“We do have a full Matter stack and the stack runs on the MCU which is typically 700kB, with 30kB for the API for the WiFi,” said Kost.  

The devices are tested against 230 access points for consistent performance across the -40 to +105 temperature range, says Naomi Heller, WiFI and Bluetooth general manager, based in Israel. “The security includes secure boot, firmware authentication and secure key storage and we have dozens of customers evaluating and designing with the chips,” she said.

Mass production is expected at the end of 2023.

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