Electronic Design

Single-Chip ZigBee Radio Kicks Up The Data Rate While Boosting Battery Life

More and more, designers are using the ZigBee short-range wireless technology to monitor remote sensors and transmit simple control messages in their industrial, building automation, and home applications. Freescale Semiconductor's MC1322x Platform in Package (PiP) not only makes it easier to implement ZigBee in these and other applications, it also offers ultra-low power consumption.

ZigBee is an enhancement to the IEEE 802.15.4 personal-area networking (PAN) standard, which permits transceiver nodes to link with many adjacent nodes to form mesh networks. The nodes can send and receive messages as they go about their normal function, but they also can act as repeaters passing messages from one node to another. This quality allows the overall range of the networks to be extended while improving overall network reliability because of the multiple paths available in case of the failure of one node.

Based on the IEEE's 802.15.4 standard and a supplementary standard from the ZigBee Alliance, most ZigBee units operate in 16 channels of the 2.4GHz industrial, scientific, and medical (ISM) band and can transmit up to 250 kbits/s. With the ZigBee-compliant stack, the radios work in a mesh configuration that extends the network's range and improves reliability because of the multiple paths available.

The single-chip MC1322x includes a fully compliant 802.15.4 transceiver and a 32-bit microcontroller (see the figure). The on-chip ROM contains the various device drivers and the 802.15.4 media-access controller (MAC). The chip also includes RAM and flash memory of various sizes. All of the RF antenna matching components, including a balun, are on chip.

The only required external parts are the antenna itself and a crystal. The chips in this family also boast better than –95-dBm receiver sensitivity. They feature a hardware MAC accelerator and topology support for peer-to-peer, star, and mesh networking as well. Operating voltage ranges from 1.8 to 3.6 V with less than 20-mA drain, making them ideal for coin-cell power.

The proprietary TurboLink technology gives the chip an alternate 2-Mbit/s data rate. With it, the MC1322x can support new typically nonZigBee applications such as voice, wireless headsets, compressed audio, and large data transfers like those in some healthcare patient monitoring systems.

The chip has 64 general-purpose I/O (GPIO) lines, two 12-bit analog-to-digital converters, and four timers. Its interfaces include pulse-width modulation (PWM), serial peripheral interface (SPI), serial communications interface (SCI), and I2C.

The chip comes in a 9.5- by 9.5- by 1.2-mm land-grid array (LGA) package and a 7- by 7- by 1-mm quad flat no-lead (QFN) package. Pricing is typically $5.50 in 10,000-unit lots. Samples will be available to key OEM customers this month with general sampling scheduled for December.

The MC1322x's BeeKit development software makes it easier for customers to create ZigBee applications. Its easy to use interface and framework help users configure parameters for their applications. It includes Freescale's BeeStack, a ZigBee Alliance-compliant protocol stack, plus pre-configured ZigBee application samples and templates. Also, it includes the ZigBee Alliance's next-generation home-control protocol stack and Home Automation profile.

Freescale Semiconductor Inc.
www.freescale.com/zigbee

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