Connect MCUs to the "Internet of Things" with single-chip WiFi device

May 30, 2013 // By Nick Flaherty
Supporting the growth in machine-to-machine and interconnected-device operation, Broadcom has launched a system-on-a-chip (SoC) for embedded devices using 8 and 16bit microcontrollers that combines WiFi with a rich programming API and SDK.

The BCM4390 chip is part of Broadcom's Wireless Internet Connectivity for Embedded Devices (WICED) portfolio and provides original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) designing new consumer products in the  "Internet of Things" market.
Adding Wi-Fi to previously unconnected devices can be a complicated process that drives up cost and increases power usage. Power is particularly challenging for resource-limited, battery operated products.
"Powering the 'Internet of Things' requires exceptionally advanced technology delivered in an exceptionally simple way," said Brian Bedrosian, Broadcom's Senior Director for Embedded Wireless in Broadcom's Wireless Connectivity Combo Group. "By offering the industry's most integrated embedded Wi-Fi solution that uses dramatically less power, Broadcom enables our customers to bring connectivity to more products in more market categories, both established and emerging."
The WICED BCM4390 SoC is designed for 8 and 16 bit microcontroller systems and delivers Wi-Fi connectivity to low-power and battery-powered devices with a battery voltage range from 2.3V to 5.5V. The key to the 8 and 16bit support is that the WiFi chip has the flexibility to implement real-time operating system (RTOS), network stack on the application CPU and enables authentication and connection to cloud services with an efficient "self-hosted" software stack
Initial applications that the BCM4390 will support include sports and fitness, health and wellness and security and automation. However, innovations based on the WICED platform can also help OEMs connect even the simplest appliances, including slow cookers, lights and more, with a single-chip.
There is an on-chip power amplifier (PA) and low noise amplifier (LNA) with support for optional external PAs and LNAs for high-power, long-range applications, and the chip supports Secure Digital Input Output (SDIO) (50 MHz, 4 bit and 1 bit) and serial peripheral interface (gSPI) (48 MHz) bus interfaces, and I 2C, Universal Asynchronous Receiver-Transmitter (UART), I 2S serial ports.
The BCM4390 is now sampling to early access customers, with full production expected in Q4 2013.