Wireless Systems Design

RF Transceiver Makes Zigbee-Product Entrance

Interest is steadily building around the new low-data-rate wireless standard known as IEEE 802.15.4. Among this connectivity standard's applications is the creation of a wireless control web for building automation, industrial monitoring-controlling systems, and sensor networks. Collaborating companies have even created the ZigBee Alliance to foster the development of such wireless-control products.

Hoping to ride the interest in ZigBee-based products, Norway's Chipcon AS is announcing a high-performance, low-power, low-data-rate RFIC. The company claims that the CC2420 is the industry's first 2.4-GHz IEEE 802.15.4-compliant RF transceiver. It will be used as a general 2.4-GHz, direct-sequence spread-spectrum (DSSS) device for a number of proprietary solutions that aren't already using 802.15.4 or ZigBee.

The RFIC is based on Chipcon's SmartRF 03 technology in 0.18-µm CMOS. It requires few external components. In addition, the CC2420 claims to surpass the IEEE 802.15.4 standard in terms of selectivity and sensitivity figures. In accordance with the standard, it supports a 250-Kbps data rate.

By supporting the AES-128-based data-encryption and authentication requirements, the CC2420 provides a high level of security. In addition, the chip enables the following: packet radio; data buffering (128-B receive + 128-B transmit); burst transmissions; clear-channel assessment; link-quality indication; and timing information. By reducing the load on the host microcontroller, these functions allow the CC2420 to interface with low-cost microcontrollers.

Chipcon AS developed the CC2420 in cooperation with Ember Corp. (www.ember.com). It will be sold as a bundle with Ember's Embedded Wireless Networking software (marketed as EM2420).

Customers of the CC2420 also will receive the IEEE 802.15.4 MAC-layer software. The CC2420 is offered in a 7-x-7-mm QFN-48 package. Development kits, samples, and volume shipments are all available now. In volume quantities, pricing for the CC2420 is in the range of $3 (U.S.).

Chipcon, Inc.
19925 Stevens Creek Blvd., Cupertino, CA 95014-2358; (408) 973-7845, FAX: (408) 973-2408, www.chipcon.com.

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