LONDON – Neul Ltd. (Cambridge, England) has started sampling what the company claims is the world's first TV white space transceiver chip.
Neul has previously offered FPGA and discrete RF versions of its technology which is intended to address machine-to-machine (M2M) and Internet-of-Things (IoT) applications using the electromagnetic spectrum that is unused around television broadcast frequencies. The Iceni chip is capable of working across the TV white space spectrum from 470-MHz to 790-MHz and could have applications in wireless broadband as well as in M2M and IoT.
The chip is manufactured for Neul by foundry Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. (Hsinchu, Taiwan) using a 90-nm CMOS process technology.
Neul executives have previously said the company would not become a fabless chip vendor, and that they would encourage others to license technology to produce white space radio chips.
The chip supports the Weightless networking standard, both 6-MHz and 8-MHz channel bandwidths and provides a choice of adaptive digital modulations and error correction methods to provide a selectable trade-off between data rate and range for a given application, Neul said.
A memory-mapped parallel bus interface and discrete interrupt lines can be used for waking an external application processor, such as an ARM Cortex-M3, upon receipt of a relevant frame and encryption mechanisms secure data.
Programmable I/Os are available for controlling an external RF front-end such as a transmit power amplifier.
Neul said it has white space networks on four continents and continues to deploy specific white space infrastructure around the world. The networks have been designed to be data only in order to support the expected billions of M2M and IoT connections.
Equipment based on the Iceni chip can access these networks at a fraction of the cost of wired or cellular wireless connections.
"The M2M and IoT space is growing tremendously in a number of markets including oil and gas, utilities, automation and more. When we looked at existing solutions and compared them to the promise of white space, we uncovered an opportunity to help build smart infrastructure and applications at huge cost savings, without sacrificing bandwidth or reliability," said James Collier, founder and CEO of Neul, in a statement. "The Iceni chip allows us to connect to devices that were previously unreachable. This opens up entirely new options for connectivity in healthcare, transport, education, heavy industry and more. We are pleased to have reached this milestone in the charge to make white space networks and services available to those game-changing applications."
But Neul originally said they would leave it up to others to make the chips. I think Neul expected to make their money taking a few nanocents for each byte of data that gets transmitted and for administering the dynamic databases of available frequencies.
However, it looks like they need to make the chips as well, at last to encourage others to get involved?
It is great to see silicon in the field that can demonstrate Weightless in action. A low cost, m2m communication system is a key piece of the IoT explosion that is on the verge of happening. This is the first stop towards a sub-$2 radio module that has a 10 year battery life and a 10km range. The future is bright.
WiFi uses 20MHz channel bandwidth at 2.4GHz, so BW/carrier ratio is approximately the same for both cases. It should not cause any significant difficulties. Choice of CDMA versus OFDMA is a long-running dispute and depends on many factors.
6/8MHz channel bandwidth seems quite wide compare to their carrier frequency. Is that OFDM for throughput, or spectrum spreading for CDMA? Neul website does not show technical detail such as modulation method...