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Controller chip enables energy harvesting

Posted: 25 Jun 2008     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:communications controller chip  wireless sensor networks  energy harvesting  "autonomous transceiver" 

GreenPeak Technologies has introduced the Emerald GP500C communications controller chip for ultra low-power wireless sensor networks. The device is the only IEEE 802.15.4 standard compliant chip available with ultra low-power features that enable energy harvesting solutions for wireless sensor networks, according to the company.

The Emerald GP500C incorporates a transceiver with a fully integrated communications layer and an on-chip energy manager. Unlike other solutions on the market, the Emerald GP500C device is an "autonomous transceiver" able to drive and control the data communication instead of being driven by a MCU, GreenPeak said. By greatly reducing energy consumption, this architectural concept enables end nodes to run on energy harvesting devices and to be truly wireless, free of power cords and free of batteries, GreenPeak said.

The Emerald GP500C only consumes a fraction (10-25 per cent) of the energy of traditional MCU-based designs (depending on the usage profile) by using a lower peak current, an ultra low leakage current, and very short transmission times via just-in-time transmission scheduling. The low energy consumption allows developers to build sensor systems with a peak current of about 20mA—2x lower than typical—and a system sleep mode of below 100nA—10x less than typical—without compromising the network reliability, GreenPeak said.

In addition, GreenPeak's radio is said to create highly reliable communication over a significant indoor range (30-50m, 100-150ft) because it utilises embedded hardware-based antenna diversity that reduces dead spots. The Emerald includes other link reliability features such as message-over-message enabling, excellent sensitivity, signal processing engine and interference detection and avoidance mechanisms.

The Emerald GP500C is delivered with a reference design and development kit that allows OEMs to build their own communication modules and applications. The GP500C supports a wide range of software stacks that can run on different processors including Zigbee Pro as well as low power routing, low power sensing, a micro stack and other application-dedicated low power protocols.

Pricing starts below Rs.80.04 ($2) for high volumes (>1M per year). Devices are now sampling to large customers.

- Gina Roos

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