Sub-GHz “Security MCU” integrates transceiver and wake-up transponder

July 16, 2014 // By Graham Prophet
Texas Instruments’ latest RF430 security MCU offers a high level of RF integration and comes with a new evaluation module to jumpstarts designs; the RF430F5978 MCU integrates TI sub-1GHz RF transceiver, 3D LF wake-up trigger and transponder with standard MSP430 MCU features and advanced AES security.

Building on TI's CC430 product family, the RF430F5978 MCU is a highly integrated RF solution with improved read zone and battery performance for ultra-low power applications. The RF430F5978 MCU includes a 3D low-frequency (LF) wake-up and transponder interface, an integrated 1GHz RF transceiver and programmable MSP430 core. The LF transponder can function without a battery supply. The 128-bit AES security encryption/decryption coprocessor adds advanced security for data protection. With its wake-up and localisation RF connectivity, this highly integrated system-in-a-package solution enables very small, compact designs with smaller batteries.

This MCU is suitable for low-power RF applications, such as wireless sensor networks, data-loggers, active transponders, remote monitoring systems, container tracking, access control and asset control/management systems. One example that can help designers visualise the application possibilities using the RF430F5978 MCU is a data-logging and wireless-communication application for produce containers. An RF4305978 MCU-based data-logger on a produce container can be triggered to wake up (via the LF wake-up interface) and programmed to send out temperature measurements (via the sub 1GHz RF interface) to an external reader when the container is within a pre-defined read zone. Security encryption on the MCU ensures that any information read or sent is only to and from an intended and authorised reader.

The RF430F5978EVM illustrates the key features of the RF430F5978 MCU, 3D LF wake-up and trigger function, passive battery-less transponder operation and resonant trimmings. The EVM includes a USB plug-in LF trigger module, RF430F5978 MCU evaluation board, AP434R01 access point and 3D LF antenna. Using this EVM, designers can set up a demo where the RF430F5978 MCU captures data from multiple sensors over a period of time, and once triggered by the LF wake-up trigger from the reader, it will transmit collected data to the access point via RF link. This data is then sent on to the included host GUI to visualise the data curve and position of the object. The EVM comes with demo