Future Electronics – New RF and controller products pave the way for next-generation IoT designs

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Paul Donaldson
Vertical Segment Director
Future Electronics (EMEA)

As OEMs intensify their efforts to develop products for the Internet of Things (IoT), designers are facing new challenges that are driving semiconductor manufacturers to extend and enhance the feature sets of their products.

Two of the trends that are most in evidence today are in the field of wireless connectivity, where new capabilities in embedded radios are coming on stream, and in the complexity of embedded software.

Radio technologies for embedded systems have in the past emphasised low power consumption and robust connectivity, especially when operating in licence-free spectrum at frequencies below 1GHz. STMicroelectronics’ S2-LP transceiver, see page 6, is an excellent example of this.

These attributes remain important, but device designers are also increasingly looking for added capabilities in order to provide more valuable information to the user. For example, the LoRa® networking technology now has the ability to show geolocation information, potentially eliminating the need for a discrete satellite positioning IC. The P-NUCLEO- LRWAN1 development system from ST, see page 7, provides an excellent environment in which to experiment with LoRa technology.

In the field of embedded software, the complexity of end product applications continues to grow. At the Embedded World 2017 exhibition in Nuremberg, Germany, Future Electronics is demonstrating IoT streetlight design examples. New smart streetlights will integrate multiple sensors, measuring parameters such as ambient light, temperature and relative humidity and air pollution and detecting the presence of people nearby.

Compare such systems to a pre-IoT networked streetlight offering no more than simple remote control functions and remote status monitoring: the difference in the software is vast.

This new software requirement makes increased demands of the system controller or processor hardware. In response, ARM and its partners have made a significant investment in IoT solutions. This year will see the delivery of the latest ARM® Cortex®-M23 and Cortex-M33 platforms, which will incorporate advanced security support as a standard component.

Elsewhere, NXP Semiconductors continues to extend its high-end i.MX processor series: the i.MX 6ULL, featured on page 24, is a good example of the optimisation of processor products for IoT applications.

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