Sequans intros Monarch 2 LTE-M / NB-IoT chipset to “transform IoT landscape”
Sequans Communications has introduced a new version of its Monarch chip platform, combining LTE-M and NB-IoT connectivity. The backward-compatible Monarch 2 chip brings a new secure element, a 60-percent boost in power efficiency, higher levels of integration, and lower costs.
Sequans called it the “most advanced” LTE-based chip for IoT devices. “There is no LTE for IoT chip more advanced than Monarch 2,” said Georges Karam, chief executive at Sequans. “We have refined every key feature and I believe it will transform the LTE for IoT landscape.”
Among a number of cheer-leaders, Deutsche Telekom said the Monarch 2 will “help to accelerate mass market IoT”. Another customer, Gemalto said the upgraded Monarch offering will help the French outfit “strengthen its position as a leading LTE chipmaker for the booming IoT market”.
Karam commented: “We designed Monarch 2 based on the exclusive knowledge we’ve gained over the last three years with IoT device-makers and LTE operators around the world. This experience has enabled us to develop the new platform with real world knowledge of what our customers need for successful LTE IoT deployments of all types.”
The Monarch 2 reuses its forebear’s software and architecture, so existing customers can migrate easily. Its embedded EAL5+ secure element (SE), offering UICC technology at chip level, affords the industry’s the “highest, government-grade security level possible”, said Sequans.
Monarch 2 also embeds Sequans Location Engine, which provides indoor and outdoor positioning via GNS, plus a wide range of LTE-based location technologies, giving developers flexibility to select the positioning technology that best fits their requirements for accuracy and cost.
Power consumption shows a 50 per cent improvement in active mode and a 60 per cent improvement in eDRX and idle modes, compared with the industry-leading Monarch, with rock bottom power consumption continuing to lead the industry at 1 micro amp.
The Monarch platform already underpins Gemalto’s Cinterion EMS31 module. Andreas Haegele, senior vice president of IoT products at Gemalto, called it the “industry-first LTE-M/NB-IoT chip, designed from scratch” to address IoT requirements around power and cost. “The second-generation Monarch brings another major step of improvement in terms of integration and extended feature support. This will help Sequans to strengthen its position as a leading LTE chipmaker for the booming IoT market,” he said.
Softbank also uses the Monarch line in its products. Hironobu Tamba, vice president and head of SoftBank’s IoT division, commented: “We welcome the iUICC embedded inside Monarch 2 and the improvements Sequans is introducing.” Tamba drew attention to the lower power consumption through use of eDRX and Sequans’ own eco-Paging technology as of “key importance to customers deploying battery-powered devices at a very competitive cost.”
Operators were on hand, as well, to lend their backing. Luc Savage, vice president of enterprise IoT at Orange, said: “Sequans’ Monarch chip has been one of the leading LTE chips in the industry since its introduction. We are pleased to see that Monarch 2 adds important capabilities, including a powerful secure element and an integrated MCU, along with significantly improved power consumption.”
Wayne Gilbert, head of IoT integration and validation at Deutsche Telekom, said: “Monarch 2 provides continuous support of both LTE-M and NB-IoT technologies and the ability to dynamically select one or the other through Sequans’ IoT-Select feature. This capability, along with its new functionality and power consumption, will help to accelerate mass market IoT.”
The Monarch 2 is 5G ready, supporting 3GPP releases 14 and 15 and LTE UE categories for M1, NB1, and NB2. It integrates baseband, RF, RAM, MCU, and power management in a single chip, and supports +23/20/14 dBm power classes, allowing deployments by operators anywhere.
Its dedicated microcontroller unit (MCU) is able to scale from ultra-low power to high-performance mode to best fit customer applications. It is open to all customers via Sequans’ developer kits, and has been certified by operators globally.
The Monarch portfolio also includes the Monarch N, the single-mode NB-IoT version of Monarch, and the Monarch SiP, an ultra-small and thin system-in-package.
Meanwhile, Sequans is working with STMicroelectronics to bring LTE for IoT connectivity to the MCU ecosystem and accelerate its adoption. The two companies have developed a dedicated cellular extension board for STM32 Discovery kits based on the Monarch technology.
ST has also enlarged its STM32CUBE cellular software library to support Sequans’ existing Monarch-based GM01Q module.
A more integrated all-in-one GM01Q STMod solution – which augments the GM01Q module with an STM32 MCU – is in the works, said Sequans. This will add LTE-M and NB-IoT connectivity to any STM32 Discovery board using Sequans’ Monarch-based GM01Q module.
The point is to accelerate the adoption of cellular IoT connectivity in the industry. The new module is expected to be available later this year.
Karam said: “With ST, we’re offering a best-in-class LTE for IoT plus MCU solution that is based on Sequans expertise in cellular IoT connectivity and ST’s expertise in low-power MCUs. The result is an easy-to-use solution for IoT device development or prototyping that will work on LTE networks around the world on supported operators in the USA, Japan, Korea, and Europe.”
The extension board and its related software in the STM32Cube library provide developers with a powerful and simplified IoT development kit that is packed with drivers and easy-to-use features to quickly establish a cellular-to-cloud connection.
Sequans’ GM01Q module supports 17 LTE bands for worldwide connectivity, and the extension board is pre-integrated into the STM32CUBE software suite, which can connect STM32-based products to cloud servers, including AWS, GCP, Azure, and others, as the libraries become available. The kit includes a switchable SIM interface, eSIM, and MicroSIM, a high-performance antenna for frequencies between 700 MHz – 2100 MHz, and free drivers and code examples.
New Sequans GM01Q development kits are being made available to select developers at Mobile World Congress.
As well, Sequans has said Daatrics, maker of smart wearables, will use Sequans’ Monarch SiP to provide LTE connectivity to its Neebo baby monitor. Neebo is an innovative infant wearable that provides parents with highly accurate monitoring of their baby’s vital statistics. Monarch is the industry’s most advanced LTE-M / NB-IoT chip, optimized for IoT devices such as wearables.