Electronic Design
Figure 1 TIrsquos SimpleLink wireless microcontroller family has up to 128 Kbytes of flash an 20 Kbytes of SRAM and an 8 Kbyte cache

Figure 1. TI’s SimpleLink wireless microcontroller family has up to 128 Kbytes of flash an 20 Kbytes of SRAM and an 8 Kbyte cache.

Ultra-Low Power Cortex-M3 Targets Wireless IoT

Texas Instruments’ (TI) SimpleLink family (Fig. 1) of wireless microcontrollers is based on an ultra-low power, ARM Cortex-M3 core. The family addresses applications such as wearable devices in the Internet of Things (IoT) space. The family of chips handles wireless communication such as Bluetooth Smart, 6LoWPAN, ZigBee, and ZigBee RF4CE, as well as sub-1 GHz solutions and a proprietary solution that operates at 5 Mbits/s.

The SimpleLink family is divided by protocol.

  • CC2620–ZigBee RF4CE (3Q '15)
  • CC2630–6LoWPAN/Zigbee
  • CC2640–Bluetooth Smart
  • CC2650–2.4 GHz Multi-standard
  • CC1310–Sub-1 GHz (Q2 '15)
  • CC1350–Dual Band (Q4 ’15)

These chips have a common core and pin-outs allowing for each interchange within designs. Of course, antenna requirements are different, but these systems are configured to handle a range of antennas. This also simplifies system design.

The link layer for the protocol support is included in ROM so it does not detract from the 128 Kbytes of flash storage for code storage. The chips come with the typical complement of digital timing and communication peripherals as well as AES encryption support with a hardware random number generator (RNG). On the analog side, the chips have comparators and ADCs in addition to capacitive touch-sense inputs.

The CC1350 handles 2.4 GHz and Sub-1 GHz. It handles the proprietary 5 Mbit/s protocol. It can also be used to provide long-range Sub-1 GHz support for Bluetooth Smart. The chip can switch between protocols since most are designed to operate with a long duty cycle and short operating time frame. All are designed for very low power use so they can run for a very long period using a single coin cell or using energy harvesting solutions.

Development platforms like the CC2650DK start at $299. They include a pair of EMK units with additional EMK units available for $99. TI also has the CC2650-based SensorTag kit designed to work with an iOS or Android app. The SensorTags are $29 and they can be reprogrammed. Finally, there are CC26xx/CC13xx LaunchPad and BoosterPacks that will be available in the second half of 2015. These provide a modular development platform. The SimpleLink family supports the TI RTOS and comes with a range of royalty-free protocol stacks. The chips are supported by TI’'s Code Composer Studio in addition to a range of third-party tools and protocol stacks such as IAR’s Embedded Workbench.

QFN package option sizes include 4-mm by 4-mm, 5-mm by 5-mm, and 7-mm by 7-mm.

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