Triple combo Matter chip combines WiFi 6/6E, Bluetooth 5.2, and 802.15.4

Triple combo Matter chip combines WiFi 6/6E, Bluetooth 5.2, and 802.15.4

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By Nick Flaherty

Synaptics has launched a system on chip (SoC) that combines WiFi 6/6E, Bluetooth 5.2, and 802.15.4/Thread with the Matter protocol.

The SYN4381 combines Wi-Fi 6/6E (802.11ax with extended 6 GHz operation), Bluetooth 5.2 with BLE Audio and High Accuracy Distance Measurement (HADM), and IEEE 802.15.4 with built-in support for the Thread protocol and Matter application layer.

The chip and its supporting SynFi software simplifies product development and reduces time to market, while accelerating the transition to seamless, secure, and scalable connectivity between devices across heterogeneous Internet of Things (IoT) networks, regardless of platform, OEM, or brand.

The typical smart home comprises devices from multiple vendors with a variety of wireless interfaces and communication protocols. Device developers choose these for their suitability to specific functions, such as high-speed video or data (WiFi), low-power sensor and control networks (802.15.4 with Zigbee or Thread), or point-to-point communication for audio or file transfers (Bluetooth). That these devices cannot interoperate is a constant source of frustration for end users as it prevents them from fully enjoying the promise of a seamlessly interactive smart home.

Instead of forcing developers and end users to choose between the various RF interfaces or “walled garden” brand ecosystems, the combo chip combines all three primary interfaces and adds support for Matter. Matter is a unified, standards-based communication protocol that once deployed across all devices enables secure interoperability—regardless of which network the devices use. For example, the user can control window blinds connected to a Zigbee network using commands given to a smart speaker running over the home’s WiFi network.

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NXP, Infineon and Silicon Labs have all announced similar combo chips with support for Matter. According to market research firm IoT Analytics, the number of connected IoT devices is expected to grow to 12.3 billion by the end of 2021, and 27 billion by 2025.1 Fueling the need for multi-standard connectivity is the growing work-from-anywhere (WFA) trend as well as the need for devices from multiple OEMs and brands to be interoperable to reduce user frustration.

A combo chip allows developers to focus on their application instead inter-platform communication, thereby simplifying development and accelerating device time to market. End users, for their part, get simplified setup and seamless control of all their smart home devices.

The SYN4381 has industry-leading Wi-Fi performance, with Wi-Fi 6E data rates up to 600 Mbps, as well as transmit power and receive sensitivity that together enable sustained high throughput over an extended range for full-home coverage.

Along with proximity detection using HADM, the dual-mode BT 5.2 radio supports best-in-class Wi-Fi/Bluetooth/802.15.4 coexistence performance. Built-in support for the Thread networking protocol allows devices using the SYN4381 to connect to a smart home’s secure, low-power mesh network, while acting as a Thread Router node. The SynFi wireless stack allows developers to use the same software across Triple Combos and future Synaptics WiFi/BLE/802.15.4 chipsets.

“Synaptics is an established leader in Wireless Combo solutions today with excellent traction at our customers for a wide range of applications such as multimedia streaming, gaming, surveillance cameras, and drones, just to mention a few,” said Alex Chou, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Wireless Connectivity Division at Synaptics. “The Triple Combo is the next logical step toward a seamless user experience, while providing industry-leading performance across three of the most popular and widely used networking technologies in the smart home. We expect the market to quickly begin the transition to Triple Combos with launches expected by the end of 2022.”

The SYN4381 Triple Combo is sampling now.

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