HomeChipsetsMatter, Sidewalk, Wi-SUN, Wi-Fi 6 – new Silicon Labs range for IoT in home, yard, city

Matter, Sidewalk, Wi-SUN, Wi-Fi 6 – new Silicon Labs range for IoT in home, yard, city

Silicon Labs has announced four new solutions to help jump-start a new “mega-cycle in IoT”, including development kits and chip systems for IoT products based on Matter, Amazon Sidewalk, Wi-SUN, and Wi-Fi 6. The new products headline the Austin outfit’s so-called Series 2 portfolio, which covers a range of IoT technologies, also including Bluetooth/BLE, Matter-underlay Thread, proprietary IEEE 802.15.4 protocols, and Zigbee, among others.

The firm even suggested to Enterprise IoT Insights last week it was looking – potentially, one day – to support cellular-based IoT technologies, too. Its second-series range is intended to address a maturing IoT sector; Silicon Labs reckons there will be 27 billion IoT devices by 2025 – equivalent to three-to-four per person on the planet. The company has doubled its IoT revenue in the past three years, it told it annual Works With developer conference this week, since its first Series 2 devices debuted in 2019.

In a keynote at the event, company chief executive Matt Johnson stated: “[With] our Series 2 offerings… Silicon Labs is positioned to be in each and every one of those devices.” In a statement, the company explained that maturity in the IoT market means “looking for IoT platforms that combine hardware, software, security, tools, and support… instead of looking for point solutions”.

Matter | Development platform + SoC

The new products include a new development platform for IoT products using the new Matter protocol, arriving in earnest in IoT hardware this autumn. The Matter standard is a response to the challenge of IoT system interoperability, particularly in the smart home. Silicon Labs, a mainstay of the Connectivity Standards Alliance (CSA), which has backed Matter through development, is “one of the largest code contributors to the platform”.

It is also “the largest” contributor of any semiconductor vendor, it said. The main component of the platform is a 2.4 GHz wireless MG24 system on chip (SoC) with Bluetooth and multiple-connectivity options. It supports Matter over Thread as a single-chip solution, delivering an indoor range of up to 200 metres, with Bluetooth Low Energy (LE) commissioning of new devices using the same chip.

With its RS9116 Wi-Fi product, it enables development of Matter over Wi-Fi 4 – and to Wi-Fi 6, via its single-chip Matter SoC, in 2023. Silicon Labs is also providing Matter ‘bridges’ to Zigbee and Z-Wave with its Unify SDK; its Simplicity Studio and GSDK products provide developers a single development environment for connecting via Matter to any ecosystem – “no matter the protocol, [whether] Bluetooth, Thread, Wi-Fi, Zigbee, or Z-Wave”.

Sidewalk | Development kit

Meanwhile, Silicon Labs has also released the “industry’s first complete wireless development solution for Amazon Sidewalk”, the Bellevue giant’s LoRa-based yard-and-community networking platform, which emerged from its defunct Sidewalk smart cities project a couple of years back. Its new Pro Kit for Amazon Sidewalk is presented as an “easy on-ramp for developers to build Amazon Sidewalk-enabled devices”.

The Sidewalk kit (sampling today, general availability in late 2023) comprises wireless hardware for “all Sidewalk protocols”, including BLE [and] sub-GHz FSK and CSS (for proprietary LoRa at 900 MHz), [plus] software SDKs, and security”. It comes with a pre-flashed software image and AWS pre-registration – for “a quick start to Amazon Sidewalk development, saving days in setup”. It works with the firm’s Simplicity Studio development environment.

As with the Matter product, and all its offers, the firm is offering its Secure Vault security product into the bargain. A statement said the kit “makes Silicon Labs the one-stop destination for… Sidewalk developers”. Silicon Labs is working with IoT design company Oxit and IoT solutions provider New Cosmos USA on the first gas alarm running on the Sidewalk platform, billed as a “connected… natural gas alarm that can provide real-time gas leak alerts”.

Wi-SUN | SoC + reference design

As well – and as discussed in yesterday’s interview feature (September 13) – Silicon Labs is also putting major focus on Wi-SUN, the quiet IoT standard that has taken hold in the utilities market. Silicon Labs has it pegged for broader smart cities applications, such as traffic lights, as well. Its portfolio narrative, therefore, goes from the home with Matter, to the community with Sidewalk, to the city with Wi-SUN.

A statement explained: “Wi-SUN delivers a large-scale, standards-based mesh [and star] networking solution in long-range sub-GHz frequency bands that is impossible with existing mesh networking IoT standards such as Zigbee, Thread, Z-Wave, and Bluetooth mesh.” The firm has introduced a new Wi-SUN SoC, the FG25 (which “can operate on a coin-cell battery for 10 years”), plus a new Wi-SUN RF front-end module, called the EFF01.

The company has also released a reference design for a Wi-SUN field-area network (FAN) border router, under the name FAN 1.1, to support Wi-SUN in a star-based architecture topology (“a central hub with many different connections coming out from it… like a wheel and spokes”). “Using a Wi-SUN FAN 1.1 Border Router, users could place their hub on a wired device, like a streetlight or something similar, with little to no power restrictions.

“That streetlight then becomes the hub to support thousands of other devices that are themselves a mix of line-powered and battery-powered. Those battery-powered devices can then extend the reach of city services. This would allow highway operators to easily monitor the temperature of asphalt in remote stretches of highways or the movement of a distant suspension bridge for any anomalies.

“By increasing the number of different factors they can monitor and measure, and expanding the volume and types of data they can gather from the device, Wi-SUN and the FG25 SoC and EFF01 FEM can help drive efficiencies, lower cost, improve safety, and more.”

Wi-Fi 6 | SoC 

Finally, Silicon Labs has started sampling of a new Wi-Fi 6 and BLE SoC, called SiWx917 (available in the second half of 2023), to reduce energy consumption in Wi-Fi IoT networking, while also delivering more functionality (“more compute, faster AI/ML, and robust security”). The new SiWx917 product works as a “Matter-ready Wi-Fi 6 SoC”, said Silicon Labs, with “high memory” and long battery life (the “longest… in the segment”) to run sundry stacks and apps on the same chip to reduce cost and simplify development.

The SiWx917 is the first Wi-Fi 6 SoC in the Silicon Labs portfolio, and offers Matter over Wi-Fi in a single-chip package. Wi-Fi 6 features OFDMA, MU-MIMO, beamforming, BSS colouring, and Target Wake Time, among other functions, to variously bring greater fidelity and longer life to Wi-Fi devices operating in the increasingly crowded 2.4 GHz band – and to “future-proof” home Wi-Fi devices for Matter, said Silicon Labs.

The addition of BLE in the SiWx917 chip brings support for device commissioning. It is PSA Level 2 certifiable. Silicon Labs calls it “ideal for low-power IoT designs, especially battery-based designs”.

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