Wi-Fi modules for embedded and 802.11ac applications

Wi-Fi modules for embedded and 802.11ac applications

New Products |
By Jean-Pierre Joosting

These products, based on Cypress Semiconductor radios, expand the Sterling family of Wi-Fi + Bluetooth multi-standard modules, joining the popular Sterling-LWB 2.4 GHz certified module, which is ideally suited for adding wireless connectivity to products employing a microprocessor with a LINUX operating system.

The first product added to the Sterling family is the Sterling-LWB5 certified dual-band 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi®, Bluetooth®, and Bluetooth® Smart module. Like the Sterling-LWB, this module enables companies to easily add wireless capabilities to electronic products typically running Linux, with the Sterling-LWB5 offering the additional capabilities of dual-band Wi-Fi with full support of the IEEE 802.11ac standard.

The second product is the Sterling-LWB for WICED reference platform, which provides electronics developers everything needed to add both embedded Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) connectivity in one device where a microprocessor is not needed or used. This comprehensive reference platform and documentation enables engineers to use the popular Cypress WICED software development kit (SDK) for Internet of Things (IoT) development for microcontroller-based applications.

Practical applications might include security and building automation, making enterprise or personal devices “wireless” to connect to the internet, medical devices, M2M applications, vehicle telematics, smart gateways, and other uses to provide wireless connectivity to a multitude of devices and equipment.

Both the Sterling-LWB and Sterling-LWB5 utilize latest-generation silicon technology that Cypress acquired from Broadcom in July 2016. The Sterling-LWB5 uses the powerful Cypress BCM43353 chipset to create one of the very first commercially available certified modules that offers IEEE 802.11ac capabilities for ultra-high data rate 5 GHz band Wi-Fi connectivity.

The Sterling-LWB5 is one of the very first certified module products to meet the growing demand for IEEE 802.11ac capabilities, while also offering classic Bluetooth and BLE connectivity. Much like the Sterling-LWB, the Sterling-LWB5 offers significant value to developers by offering more options, more certifications, and a greater variety of antenna choices, which altogether provides greater flexibility to meet their specific design requirements. Additional features of the Sterling-LWB5 include:

  • The Sterling-LWB5 will be offered in three different configurations to best meet the needs of a specific application, each boasting an industrial temperature rating of -40° to +85° C.
  • For designs where space is a premium, a small footprint system-in-package (SiP) version is sized at just 10 mm x 10 mm.
  • To significantly reduce design time and risk by simplifying antenna implementation, the Sterling-LWB5 will also be available in two 15.5 mm x 21 mm configurations featuring a choice of either an on-module chip antenna or U.FL connector for an external antenna.
  • The chip antenna and U.FL connector variants of the Sterling-LWB5 will be pin-compatible with its Sterling-LWB counterpart. That means a customer could offer both single- and dual-band Wi-Fi product versions with just a single shared PCB layout design.
  • The Sterling-LWB plans to support an unmatched breadth of certifications with numerous antenna options for use in the United States, Canada, Europe, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand.

Product samples and development boards with an SD card form factor will be available by the end of 2016.

The Sterling-LWB for WICED reference platform allows developers to utilize the high-performance Sterling-LWB 2.4 GHz certified module to add Wi-Fi and BLE connectivity to embedded applications that utilize an STM32F411 microcontroller.

These embedded applications offer a lower-power, lower-cost solution to microprocessor-based applications running a robust operating system like LINUX, making this design approach particularly popular for IoT product innovations.

Furthermore, this reference platform enables development on the Sterling-LWB with the powerful WICED software development kit, which Cypress offers to enable the rapid development and deployment of connected IoT products. The reference platform will include:

  • A Sterling-LWB for WICED carrier board that features the Sterling-LWB module and antenna in a form factor that plugs directly into a STM32F411 Discovery Board for prototyping.
  • WICED sample applications that simplify the integration efforts between the STM32 MCU and the Sterling-LWB.
  • Extensive documentation, including the schematics and layout files for the carrier board, providing customers an easy-to-follow reference for integrating the Sterling-LWB into their PCB layout.
  • A ModuleLink™ mobile app, which provides developers an outstanding tool for evaluation and development of their business application. The mobile app will demonstrate many aspects of a Sterling-LWB implementation, such as the use of BLE for Wi-Fi® commissioning.
  • A free TiWiConnect™ IoT platform developer account and web portal to quickly demonstrate WiFi-to-cloud connectivity with sample applications.

The carrier board and all necessary documentation also is planned to be available by the end of 2016.

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