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Date: 17-06-14

WiFi SOCs for enabling IoT in embedded systems

When designing IoT enabled embedded electronic devices/systems, it requires development efforts in both hardware and software. Design engineers look for simple to design SoC device which can get connected to popularly used interfaces such as USB, SPI, I2C, or sometimes directly to the microcontroller output port. In this article we'll try to help you out in providing some of the latest semiconductor ICs/modules for you to select as IoT hardware.

The single chip solutions are available in the market for enabling home appliances and smart systems with IOT feature. The SOC chip with Wi-Fi, Zigbee, Bluetooth transceivers and on-chip 32-bit arm cortex M3 or M4 based microcontroller is offered by some of the leading semiconductor companies.

Below are some of the products which you can use for your IOT design.

The QCA4002 and QCA4004 from Qualcomm targets home appliances applications such as washing machines, air-conditioners, and hot water readers which can be connected to Internet. In fact this chipset also can be used for home lighting, security and automation system. The speciality of QCA4004 is, it can operate in a pure hostless mode of operation.

Intel Corporation has announced availability of chips for Internet of things (IoT) applications. Intel's Quark SoC X1000 and Atom processor E3800 are now tuned for Internet of Things applications such as intelligent gateway with software support from McAfee and Wind River.

GainSpan's GS2000 is a single chip solution featuring two IEEE low power standard wireless technologies Wi-Fi (802.11b/g/n) and Zigbee 802.15.4. The GS2000 has on chip PHY/MAC functionality and dual ARM Cortex -M3 processors. The GS2000 offers dual mode IPv4/IPv6 TCP/UDP networking stack.

GS2000 is said to bridge the gap between smart meters using ZigBee and the new connected white appliances, all integrating Wi-Fi. IOT system designers can use this SOC to develop a design that supports either ZigBee IP and/or Wi-Fi, with IPv4 or IPv6, all in the same product.

Broadcom is also offering Wi-Fi system-on-a-chip (SoC) BCM4390 for this fast-growing "Internet of Things" market.
But this chip is designed for 8 and 16 bit microcontroller systems and delivers Wi-Fi connectivity to low-power and battery-powered devices such as sports and fitness, health and wellness and security and automation. BCM4390 is also suggested for slow cookers, remote light switching.

Atmel's SmartConnect modules integrate ultra-low-power Wi-Fi SoC and ARM Cortex-M0+ based microcontroller offering wireless Internet connectivity to any embedded design.

For consumer electronics applications Atmel is offering family called Wi-Fi Direct which utilise Wi-Fi adapter already available in TV, set-top box, PC, tablet, or other device. SmartDirect is a system on a chip offering Wi-Fi personal area network (PAN) solution. It’s ideal for battery-powered human interface device (HID) peripherals like remote controls, wireless mouse and keyboards, and audio products such as wireless speakers, headphones, and many other applications.

Texas Instruments has introduced single chip Wi-Fi SOCs CC3100 and CC3200. These are called as Internet-on-a-chip integrated with ARM Cortex-M4 MCU.

If you are interested in modules instead of chips, if not for volume production but for prototyping, there is a company called openpicus offering Wi-Fi GPRS and ethernet IOT modules in a PCB mountable coin size package.

Most of these vendors offer reference designs to help in writing code and designing the schematic circuit diagram.

If you are a VLSI SoC design engineer looking for WiFi silicon IP cores read our other article with title "802.11ac Wi-Fi Silicon IP cores for your smart connection device" at:

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