MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.--Texas Instruments Inc. (TI) has announced the next generation of its WiLink combo chips, the WiLink 8.0 product family; a collection of 45-nanometer single-chip offerings integrating up to five radios on the same piece of silicon.
The five-radio WiLink 8.0 chip sports Wi-Fi, GNSS, NFC, Bluetooth and FM radio on a single die, with TI claiming that this translates into a 45 percent reduction in chip real estate, a 60 percent cost reduction and a 30 percent power saving compared with traditional multi-chip offerings.
The chips use either 2×2 MIMO or SISO 40MHz and are purportedly capable of reaching over 100Mbps Wi-Fi TCP throughput on the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, to enable fast mobile streaming and high-definition (HD) mobile video applications including Wi-Fi Direct and Wireless Display technology to beam content between screens at low latency.
WiLink 8.0 chips with integrated Wi-Fi MIMO also yield 25 percent smaller size and 50 percent power savings over other MIMO solutions, TI claimed.
Each chip variant comes in a compact WSP package that can be mounted directly on a PCB, and includes the required RF front ends, a power management system, and coexistence mechanisms.
In cases where five radios are not required, TI said its WiLink 8.0 family has 15 variants, all differently specced to suit different price points and needs in the mobile market.
“Leading at the highest end is only one part of the equation,” said Dave Lacinski, strategic marketing manager for TI’s wireless connectivity group. “In a world that’s more connected than ever, all price tiers of mobile devices markets represent incredible opportunities for connectedness,” he said.
“We’re now taking capabilities that were previously only available in very high-end devices and making them a reality on more mobile products,” he continued, noting that this included not just high quality streaming but also applications like NFC payments and better location data.
Indeed, TI is claiming that its WiLink 8.0 combo chip is the first to embed a complete NFC controller, with an over 50 percent size reduction compared to non-combo chips.
“Once the radios come together on a mobile device – whether all five of them or a combination of a few – consumers will use them,” said Lacinski, noting that it all comes down to the context of where a person is and what is important to them in that particular location.
For example, said Lacinski, WiLink 8.0 devices could facilitate Hybrid-location “shopping” by blending partial and full data from the Wi-Fi and sensor systems, complimented by Bluetooth, ANT and NFC augmentation to pinpoint a person’s exact location. One chip alone currently isn’t capable of such high levels of location accuracy.
TI also believes that the integration will make NFC more affordable, and lower the barrier for entry, making NFC more pervasive, from high-end smartphones to low end feature phones.
WiLink 8.0 also lets users receive and transmit FM signals while other radios are working, making it possible for consumers to transmit music from their smartphone to their home or car stereo without needing Bluetooth.
Synergy between the various radios is what TI is most proud of with its WiLink 8.0 family. “Today’s devices only run one protocol at a time. With WiLink 8.0, you track your miles on an ANT+-enabled mountain bike, with also using Bluetooth low energy to monitor your heart rate on the ride,” said Lacinski, noting that the integration was “no small feat.”
Getting the radios to “play nice” while working together, said Lacinski was similar to getting members of a choir to sing with each other rather than over each other.
TI’s connectivity partners for WiLink include NXP and Infineon.