Microchip shrinks WPAN low-power sensor nodes

February 27, 2019 //By Rich Pell
Microchip shrinks WPAN low-power sensor nodes
Microchip Technology (Chandler, AZ) has announced what it says is the industry's smallest IEEE 802.15.4-compliant module to meet the needs of wireless, space-constrained sensor nodes such as home automation sensors and controls.

Developed for low-power wireless sensor nodes, the SAM R30 module combines an ultra-low-power microcontroller (MCU) with a sub-GHz radio. The IEEE 802.15.4-based module supports proprietary networks that can be easily customized and configured, and is offered as being ideal for applications where interoperability is not desired due to their inherent vulnerability to remote attacks, such as alarm systems, building automation, smart cities, and industrial sensor networks.

The module features ultra-low-power sleep modes, with wake from general-purpose input/output (GPIO) or its built-in real-time clock (RTC) while consuming approximately 800 nA. Devices can sleep for years, only waking as needed to transmit data.

"The Internet of Things consists of millions of battery-powered sensors that rely on low-power operation and reliable wireless performance," says Steve Caldwell, vice president of Microchip's Wireless Solutions business unit. "The SAM R30 certified module meets these needs while also providing a way for developers to build more compact designs and accelerate time to market."

The SAM R30 module measures 12.7 x 11 mm and includes the necessary features to drive any remote connected sensor, eliminating the need for a separate MCU in the design. The device also offers up to 256 kilobytes (KB) of Flash and 40 KB of RAM, as well as serial data interfaces, USB, and digital and analog I/O for advanced sensor development.

By operating in the sub-GHz RF spectrum, says the company, the module delivers two times the connectivity range and better propagation through walls and floors than similarly powered devices using the 2.4-GHz frequency band. This is critical in applications such as leak detection, where the sensor may be buried deep in a remote cabinet, or for pool and spa controllers, which require reliable sub-GHz solutions that can communicate through exterior walls.

The SAM R30 module is certified with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Industry Canada (IC), and Radio Equipment Directive (RED), enabling designers to reduce time to market and RF testing certification

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