Microchip adds Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and ZigBee RF parts and modules

April 23, 2013 // By Graham Prophet
Microchip Technology has expanded its RF product offering with a PIC32 Bluetooth Digital Audio Kit; Wi-Fi modules; IEEE 802.15.4/proprietary radio; and XBee footprint-compatible Bluetooth and Wi-Fi modules.

The introduction includes single-chip support for IEEE 802.15.4, ZigBee, MiWi and other proprietary protocols enabling very low-power designs, socket modules that support migration from 802.15.4 to Wi-Fi or Bluetooth; certified modules help to extend Wi-Fi functionality; and a cost-effective development platform for high-quality audio.

The Bluetooth additions include the PIC32 Bluetooth Audio Development Kit, featuring modules, stacks and CODECs, and XBee footprint-compatible socket modules with integrated stacks. The new Wi-Fi offerings comprise IEEE 802.11b/g Wi-Fi modules with Microchip’s free source-code TCP/IP stack running on a PIC MCU for greater configurability, as well as XBee footprint-compatible socket modules with integrated stacks for ease of use. Microchip is also adding a low-power 2.4 GHz radio that supports, for the first time in one chip, both the IEEE 802.15.4 and proprietary data rates (from 125 kbps to 2 Mbps), including the ZigBee, MiWi and other proprietary protocols.

Wireless-network designs that need to operate with very low power consumption include battery-powered home and industrial automation wireless-sensor mesh networks, as well as ZigBee RF4CE-standard-based remote controls. Microchip’s next-generation, 2.4 GHz IEEE 802.15.4 MRF24XA transceiver radio provides a very low operating voltage range of 1.5 to 3.6V and receive power consumption of 13 mA, which enables years of battery life.

Some designers want an easy way to migrate their 802.15.4 designs to either Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, in order to make them accessible from smart phones and tablets, or to add Internet connectivity. This includes applications such as wireless sensor networks, remote monitoring/control and measurement, and M2M cable replacements for home, commercial and industrial networks. The RN XV series of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth socket modules provide agency-certified, drop-in connectivity for any XBee socket. To simplify designs, the stacks are integrated on the module, configured via simple ASCII commands, and can easily connect to any MCU via a serial interface.

Other designers want to add more extensible Wi-Fi functionality, such as a complete Web server and email, via