Silicon Introduces Ultra-Low-Power Wireless MCUs

Silicon Laboratories has introduced a range of low-power single-chip wireless microcontrollers (MCUs). The ultra-low-power Si10xx wireless MCU range addresses the power and radio-frequency (RF) requirements of battery-operated home-automation systems, smart meters, in-home utility monitors and security systems. Today's smart-home/smart-grid applications merge wired/wireless connectivity and embedded control with power-efficient design to maximise battery life.

The ultra-low-power Si10xx wireless MCU range is suitable for these battery-operated systems with RF links, as well as for many other embedded wireless applications that require ultra-low power consumption. The Si10xx wireless MCUs combine a 25MHz 8051-core, EZRadiopro sub-gigahertz RF transceiver, up to 64kB of flash and a 12bit analogue-to-digital converter (ADC) - all in a 5 x 7mm package. The MCUs offer a low active-mode current consumption (160mA/MHz).

In sleep mode, they consume only 615nA with an active 32.768kHz real-time clock (RTC) and down to 315nA with an active RTC and a low-frequency oscillator (LFO). In deep-sleep mode, they can operate on as little as 25nA with full RAM retention. The Si10xx range's ultra-low-power architecture and fast wake-up time (two microseconds) 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 high efficiency.

The DC-DC converter supplies power needed for periods of RF transmission and reception with efficiencies of up to 90 per cent. As a result, developers can design embedded wireless systems capable of a 25 per cent 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 per cent, according to the company.

The Si10xx wireless MCUs offer high output power and sensitivity and low-power wake-up transition. The integrated power amplifier and low-noise amplifier enable an RF link budget of more than 140dB, without requiring active external elements. This results in an extended range, a higher bandwidth and lower overall power consumption.


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