The low power Wi-Fi specialist, Alpha Micro has unveiled the GainSpan GS2000, the first single chip solution that brings together two IEEE low power standard wireless technologies: Wi-Fi (802.11b/g/n) and 802.15.4. The device is a highly integrated System on a Chip (SoC) containing multi-standard RF as well as both 802.11b/g/n and 802.15.4 PHY/MAC functionality, dual ARM Cortex -M3 processors, networking stack and services, and large memory size to support various application profiles – all on a single silicon die.
The new Wi-Fi and ZigBee IP chip is intended to help accelerate the development and market adoption of home networked devices.
The GS2000 features a dual mode IPv4/IPv6 TCP/UDP networking stack along with additional networking services, enabling a complete networking solution for embedded MCU based applications. It supports Wi-Fi WLAN software and networking features, ZigBee IP – which is based upon 6LoWPAN – and IP based addressing and methods over both 802.11 and 802.15.4 wireless standards.
By incorporating the only two wireless IP-based Home Area Network (HAN) standards while supporting IPv4 and/or IPv6 devices, the GS2000 is able to extend internet connectivity wherever there is a Wi-Fi access point or hotspot. In residential applications, for example, the solution will bridge the gap between smart meters using ZigBee and the new connected white appliances, all integrating Wi-Fi.
“While other wireless technologies compete in various applications, only Wi-Fi and ZigBee IP provide for and support IP addressing and methods, extending these proven Internet protocols directly to a device or sensor,” said Greg Winner, President and CEO, GainSpan. “To truly deliver on the vision of the Internet of Things, range, power consumption, ease of deployment and network management are often more critical than other factors. The GS2000 combining both technologies is able to address line powered as well as battery operated applications cost effectively, which are both necessary to achieve that vision.”
With the GS2000, device and appliance manufacturers no longer have to design for one or the other protocols, but can use the same SOC to develop a design that supports either ZigBee IP and/or Wi-Fi, with IPv4 or IPv6, all in the same product.
According to IHS analyst Phillip Maddocks, “the connected home is a growing market, with annual shipments of ‘smart home’ nodes projected to grow from under 20 million units in 2012, to over 90 million in 2017. Both ZigBee and Wi-Fi are projected to demonstrate significant uptake in this market, and the two technologies can be used together within a range of key ‘smart home’ devices, ranging from gateways to node-level devices such as smart appliances or thermostats.”