Lowest power wireless microcontrollers for smart home and smart meter market


Mark Thompson,
Vice President and
General Manager,
Silicon Labs’
Embedded Mixed
Signal products
Nuremberg, Germany — (METERING.COM) — March 3, 2010 – A new family of single chip wireless microcontrollers (MCUs) aimed at addressing the power and RF requirements of battery operated home automation systems, smart meters and in-home utility monitors have been introduced by high performance, analog intensive, mixed signal IC developer Silicon Laboratories.

The ultra low power Si10xx wireless MCUs combine a 25 MHz 8051 core, EZRadioPRO® sub-GHz RF transceiver, up to 64 kB of flash and up to 12 bit ADC – all in a compact 5 mm x 7 mm package. The Si10xx family is the industry’s most power efficient single chip wireless MCU solution, providing the lowest current in common modes of operation. The wireless MCUs offer the lowest active mode current consumption (160 μA per MHz). In sleep mode, they consume only 615 nA with an active 32.768 kHz real time clock (RTC) and down to 315 nA with an active RTC and a low frequency oscillator (LFO). In deep sleep mode, they can operate on as little as 25 nA with full RAM retention.

The Si10xx family’s ultra low power architecture and fast wake-up time (2 μs) greatly extends battery life in both lithium and alkaline battery applications. The Si10xx architecture also features a DC-DC boost converter designed to supply large loads with extremely high efficiency. The DC-DC converter supplies power needed for periods of RF transmission and reception with efficiencies of up to 90 percent. As a result, developers can design embedded wireless systems capable of 25 percent longer battery life over alternative solutions with no degradation in MCU or radio performance; in some system configurations, an Si10xx device can extend battery life by as much as 50 percent.

The Si10xx wireless MCUs offer market leading RF performance with the highest output power and sensitivity and lowest power wake-up transition. The Si10xx family’s integrated power amplifier and low noise amplifier enable an RF link budget of greater than 140 dB without requiring active external elements. This results in extended range, higher bandwidth and lower overall power consumption.

“The Si10xx family is a battery’s best friend, offering best in class energy efficiency that makes it easier to design battery powered products for the smart home and smart meter markets,” said Mark Thompson, vice president and general manager of Silicon Labs’ Embedded Mixed Signal products. “By incorporating the EZRadioPRO transceiver, the Si10xx wireless MCUs deliver exceptional RF performance with high output power and superior sensitivity.”

To streamline the development of smart home and smart meter products based on Si10xx wireless MCUs, Silicon Labs offers a set of hardware and software tools for MCU and system design, RF design and optimization, and network software design. These tools include Si1000-DK and Si1010-DK development kits, SDBC-DK3 development platform for EZRadioPRO wireless products, the wireless development suite (WDS) toolset, EZMACPRO media access control module (“network in a box”), and fully compliant wireless M-Bus stack (EN: 13757-4), a metering networking standard common in Europe.