This mindset will not only buoy demand for Linear Technology’s energy
harvesting chips, but will benefit Dust Networks since a majority of its
of systems in the industrial segment are battery driven and have an
average useful life of roughly seven years. A dual system will sharply
extend the useful life of those systems to decades. “So there’s a cost
savings of doing that. You pay more upfront, when you deploy your
system, but you get savings on the back end,” Armstrong said.
peak into their product roadmap reveals that customers are also
interested in systems with multiple ambient energy sources that are used
to feed downstream wireless sensor nodes.
“We can augment what they
do with batteries with our energy harvesting ICs. So we think there’s a
lot of synergy there,” Armstrong said.
Indeed, one of the key
aspects that make the companies a good fit is the industry in which they
both heavily serve: the industrial sector. According to a Linear
spokesperson, the industry segment is the company’s sweet spot,
accounting for approximately 40 percent of its revenue. Dust Networks,
which will retain its name, brings a variety of standards-based products
for wireless sensor networks ranging from WirelessHART (IEC62591), to
6LoWPAN to ZigBee. In fact, Dust Networks has been helping set wireless
standards; the WirelessHART protocol is based on Dust’s technology,
The protocol supports operation in the 2.4 GHz ISM
band using IEEE standard radios. Dust Network’s implementation of the
IEEE 802.15.4 system on chip consumes roughly one-third to one-fifth of
the power of competing products, delivering low power consumption for
wire-free operation on batteries or energy harvesting, Weiss said.
new version of this standard is emerging called IEEE 802.15.4.E, which
also incorporates parts of the technology Dust Networks pioneered. They
include time-synchronized wireless sensor networks and channel hopping,
which helps systems avoid interference on the 2.4 GHz band.
Technology’s global presence has turbo-charged Dust Networks’ own
wireless sensor system product efforts as it plans to unveil more
sophisticated WirelessHART and Internet protocol-based wireless
networking products in subsequent months.
“Our product plans are
to continue to push forward on all of those fronts in a variety of
different ways, making bigger networks, more flexible networks, lower
power networks, because lower power also translates into either longer
battery-life or being able to use new power sources,” Weiss said.
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.