SAN JOSE, Calif. Startup ZeroG Wireless officially throws its hat into the ring Monday (Feb. 16) of competitors trying to bring wireless to embedded systems. The company claims its new chip and module could bring 802.11b connectivity to new lows in cost, size and power consumption.
"We are targeting an Internet of things like a thermostats where there's not a lot of data but there also is a need for configuration control," said Tim Colleran, vice president of marketing at ZeroG (Sunnyvale, Calif.).
The company hopes to find design wins in a wide variety of embedded systems from coffee pots and toys to sensor networks in building and industrial automation. It estimates that market could amount as many as nine billion sockets.
The company's ZG2100, built in an 180 nm process, supports data rates up to 2 Mbits/s. It includes a baseband, media access controller, power amplifier and hardware acceleration for Wi-Fi security standards such as WEP, WPA and WPA2.
The chip runs uses a host controller to run part of its code. It requires as little as 367 bytes of RAM and less than 10 Kbytes of ROM from a host microcontroller, according to the company. It can run without an operating system.
ZeroG will also ship the chip as part of a module, the ZG2100M, which includes required passives and an integrated antenna. The company has struck a partnership with Microchip Technology Inc. so that its module will support Microchip's existing Internet Protocol software, tools and development kits.
The module is shipping now and will cost $16 in 10,000 unit quantities when it is in production sometime before April. The chip itself will cost less than $5 when purchased in million-unit quantities.
The company is in the process of getting certification for the module from regulatory bodies in Canada, Europe, Japan and the U.S. The device will be on display at the Embedded Systems Conference in San Jose in late March.
ZeroG has taken $30 million in two rounds of funding so far, the last closing in 2008 from investors including Battery Ventures, Greylock Partners and Morgenthaler Ventures. "We have a pretty good runway in front of us," said Colleran.