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Start-up brings wireless to embedded systems

Posted: 18 Feb 2009     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:802.11b connectivity  Wi-Fi chip  host controller  sensor networks 

ZeroG Wireless officially throws its hat into the ring of competitors aiming to bring wireless to embedded systems. The start-up says its new chip and module could bring 802.11b connectivity to new lows in cost, size and power consumption.

"We are targeting an Internet of things like a thermostat, where there's not a lot of data but there also is a need for configuration control," said Tim Colleran, VP of marketing at ZeroG.

The company hopes to find design wins in a wide variety of embedded systems from coffee pots and toys to sensor networks in building and industrial automation. It estimates that market could amount to as many as 900 crore sockets.

The company's ZG2100, built in 180nm process, supports up to 2Mbps data rates. It includes a base band, media access controller, power amplifier and hardware acceleration for Wi-Fi security standards such as WEP, WPA and WPA2.

The chip uses a host controller to run part of its code. It requires as little as 367bytes of RAM and less than 10KB of ROM from a host microcontroller, according to the company. It can run without an OS.

ZeroG will also ship the chip as part of a module, the ZG2100M, which includes required passives and an integrated antenna. The company has struck a partnership with Microchip Technology Inc. so that its module will support Microchip's existing Internet Protocol (IP) software, tools and development kits.

The module is shipping now and will cost Rs.795.51 ($16) in 10,000 unit quantities when it is in production sometime before April. The chip itself will cost less than Rs.248.60 ($5) when purchased in million-unit quantities.

The company is in the process of getting certification for the module from regulatory bodies in Canada, Europe, Japan and the United States. The device will be on display at the Embedded Systems Conference in San Jose in late March.

ZeroG has taken Rs.149.16 crore ($30 million) in two rounds of funding so far, the last closing in 2008 from investors including Battery Ventures, Greylock Partners and Morgenthaler Ventures. "We have a pretty good runway in front of us," said Colleran.

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