Thread plus Bluetooth Smart, running on a single wireless MCU

October 14, 2015 // By Graham Prophet
Freescale’s 32-bit Kinetis KW41Z MCU claims to be the only-available multi-mode radio with Thread support, capable of running 802.15.4 and Bluetooth Smart.

KW41Z is a multi-mode radio MCU that supports concurrent operation of IEEE 802.15.4 Thread and Bluetooth Smart/BLE connectivity while hosting associated applications; applications and connectivity are run in a single package. An expansion of Freescale’s Kinetis KW40Z family of wireless MCUs, the MCU features extended memory – up to 512k flash and 128k RAM – allowing multiple networking stacks to run on a single device and enabling true multiprotocol designs. The device also supports the latest Bluetooth specification v4.2, and offers RF performance with an on-chip balun facilitating wider coverage, better interference immunity, lower power and complexity, and fewer RF front-end components for a robust design.

In the context of next-generation end-to-end IoT solutions, Freescale user Tolga Latif, CEO of Linx Technologies, notes, “Freescale’s KW41Z MCU allows us to rapidly develop Thread-based IoT products featuring the latest functions, such as using BLE for sideband commissioning.”

The KW41Z MCU is expected to find uses in home devices/IoT systems such as thermostats, home security systems and door locks, by addressing multiple use cases in a single solution. The KW41Z MCU can run applications, add Thread connectivity, provide control of these systems with a smart phone or tablet via BLE, and use BLE to securely join devices to the network (sideband commissioning).

Freescale plans to demonstrate several wireless IoT applications at the forthcoming ARM TechCon 2015 including a BLE controlled robot and a BLE heart rate monitor. These designs are based on the Kinetis KW40Z MCU which integrates an ARM Cortex-M0+ core with a 2.4 GHz multi-protocol radio to support both the BLE and 802.15.4 wireless protocols in a single device. The KW40Z MCUs are BLE 4.1 compliant and present very low-power features to provide years of operation on a standard coin cell battery. Freescale will also present an IoT sensor edge node reference platform based on the Kinetis KW24 wireless MCU, which integrates an ARM Cortex-M4 core with an IEEE 802.15.4 radio