SAN JOSE, Calif. – Microchip arrived at Design West with a bolstered line of embedded wireless products for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Zigbee and its proprietary MiWi. The new products come at a time when many embedded systems are getting networked to the Web or a nearby mobile terminal.
“You are seeing all kinds of new markets creating all kinds of new demand--the number of markets is almost unbounded but some of the biggest these days are in wireless sensors, health and fitness and home and building automation,” said Mitch Dale, senior manager of business development for Microchip’s wireless products division.
Wi-Fi is the favorite flavor of the day, but Bluetooth has its fans, too. “Everybody wants to connect to the smartphone, so we see all kinds of people doing point-to-point lifestyle hubs and personal nets,” Dale said.
So Microchip rolled out a Bluetooth development kit that is essentially a reference design for a Bluetooth docking station. It supports Apple, Android and Samsung high fidelity codecs in addition to the usual SBC and AAC codecs and is in limited availability with full production this summer.
In Wi-Fi, Microchip rolled out its first transceiver supporting the .11g spec. The MRF24WG kicks out 54 Mbits/second max and 5 Mbits/s sustainably, up from a sustainable 1 Mbit/s with the previous .11b product. It consumes 240 milliamps when running at full tilt and costs $18.75 in thousands.
Microchip's Bluetooth kit (left), .11b module (top right) and 15.4 transceiver (bottom right)
The embedded Wi-Fi space is heating up. Microchip acquired two startups in the space over the last few years. Now the Wi-Fi giants such as Broadcom, Marvell and Qualcomm Atheros are jumping in, mainly pushing their high-end .11n products down into lower power, less expensive devices.
In an effort to cover the waterfront, Microchip also rolled out a new 802.15.4 transceiver suitable for Zigbee, 6LowPAN and Microchip’s proprietary MiWi protocols. The MRF24XA runs at as little as 1.5V operation, down from 2.4V, getting more juice from a battery. It delivers just 256 Kbits/s in its 15.4 mode, but it kicks out two Mbits/s using the MiWi protocol which has a smaller packet size.
Finally, Microchip added support for a Bluetooth module to the XBee socket standard defined by Digi International. Microchip already makes 15.4 and Wi-Fi modules for the XBee socket.
I like the direction that Microchip is taking with adding more wireless options. I would love to try the MiWi wireless system (just like the name) and wonder what the latency and if there are multiple channels possible. I can see now that I will need to go look it up on Microchip's website. Does anyone have experience using the MiWi?
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