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I'm searching for a low power system-on-chip that combines:

  • A processor (any achitecture)
  • A radio (any frequency/bitrate/tx power)
  • 2 or more I/O pins (ADC would be a bonus)

Can anyone recommend a device?

Which chip companies should I be looking at?

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  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ can you give any more detail about your application context? do you need a one way link or two way link? are you looking to be on a network or just point to point? \$\endgroup\$ – vicatcu Dec 16 '10 at 21:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ideally, two-way and network capable, though one way non networked would also be interesting \$\endgroup\$ – Toby Jaffey Dec 17 '10 at 9:52

11 Answers 11

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I would suggest a TI product. The MSP430, a low power microcontroller, combined with their transceiver line gives you:

The CC430

These chips can be very very effective. I currently use the CC1100 and the MSP430 and we have been wanting to make a hardware revision to switch to one of these very tiny SoC. They have AES support in most of them. TI has a zigbee stack available also, allowing you to plug-n-play-n-sell.

You will get many extra pins, ADC, SPI/I2C, UART. These chips can be the core of an overall system and add transceiver.

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    \$\begingroup\$ The $50 devkit looks good processors.wiki.ti.com/index.php/EZ430-Chronos \$\endgroup\$ – Toby Jaffey Dec 16 '10 at 21:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ They are very affordable and offer a lot in processing power. Most people think of an MSP430 as a 8-bit due to cost, but they are actually 16-bit uC. \$\endgroup\$ – Kortuk Dec 16 '10 at 21:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, the Chronos devkit is great way to start \$\endgroup\$ – qdot Dec 17 '10 at 4:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ There's also the EZ430 RF kits. Chronos is not that good if you want to wire stuff into it as neither the base station or the watch is very open to prototyping hw. It's a nice way to try the radios, though, of course. And good value. \$\endgroup\$ – XTL Dec 18 '10 at 12:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ TI have also recently released their low power bluetooth parts, CC2540. A dev kit is also available. \$\endgroup\$ – Austin Phillips Dec 19 '10 at 1:24
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I've only read up on Atmel's stuff. They have the ZigBee line, with system-on-chip solutions: ATmega128RFA1. It has a 10-bit 330kS/s ADC, analog comparator, on-chip temp. sensor, <250nA sleep, max 14.5mA for Tx.

http://www.atmel.com/dyn/products/product_card.asp?part_id=4692

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I am very familiar with the MC13224V chip from Freescale Semiconductor. What's nice about it is that the balun and matching components are on chip, so all you need to do is supply a 50 ohm antenna.

I use the development boards from Redwire LLC.

http://redwirellc.com/store/node/1

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I am a little surprised at how little overlap there is between the devices listed here and the list of radio transceivers for wireless sensor networks.

Forgive me for trying to read your mind, but I guess you plan to hook up that low-power radio to a battery and a sensor or two. Rather than re-design everything from scratch, have you considered buying an off-the-shelf wireless sensor node that already has all that stuff assembled and tested, or perhaps you could make relatively minor tweaks to one of the open-source wireless sensor node platforms?

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Nordic Semi and TI.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The CC1110 is the kind of thing I'm after \$\endgroup\$ – Toby Jaffey Dec 16 '10 at 21:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ I saw a few Nordic chips, which are low cost. I've used TI's controller,but I'm unsure of how good Nordics Dev tool and support for development. Have you worked on it before? \$\endgroup\$ – seetharaman Mar 18 '16 at 4:15
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If you just need a couple I/O, ANT's SensrCore might be all you need. It's essentially a prefab 2.4GHz module or chipset that can be set up to read a few pins and report on them over the radio:

Marketing speak: http://www.thisisant.com/technology/sensrcore

Powerpoint presentation

Datasheet

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Freescale has the MC13213 and 13233 SOC systems which combine a ZigBee radio with an HCS08 microcontroller. The MC13213 has 60 KB Flash and 4KB RAM memory and sells for around $3.50 in 1K quantities. 8-channel, 10-bit ADC and lots of I/O pins.

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Something like an rfPIC?

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Jeelabs.com -- Try the JeeNode 17.5eur with RF included, has adc included also used it happily for some time now there are very good developed libraries for low power usage (it can even run on 1AAA battery)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The RFM12 looks nice, but it's not a SoC \$\endgroup\$ – Toby Jaffey Dec 17 '10 at 9:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ why using a SoC is a must ? \$\endgroup\$ – s.mihai Dec 17 '10 at 20:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ Because I'm designing a low cost product for high volume manufacture \$\endgroup\$ – Toby Jaffey Dec 18 '10 at 8:39
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I would suggest PICs and Zigbee chip or Microchip's version of it. CCS has some low-cost PIC development kits w/ wiresless. http://ccsinfo.com/product_info.php?products_id=wirelesszigb

For 1 one communication, I would suggest looking at the RFID radio chipsets and similar devices in that spectrum.

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I used NXP Jennic JN5148 for a wireless sensor network application. They already provides Zigbee Pro and Jennet (Jennic's proprietary) libraries> You only have to build high level application using the libraries. The microcontroller and radio is integrated, so the consumed space would be smaller. The IDE is Eclipse and you can download program into the microcontroller using generic USB-serial (prolific or FTDI). They also have module version if you do not want to struggle with RF design. Quick search on Digikey shows that these modules is the cheapest here

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