TI’s SimpleLink WiFi enables ubiquitous IP connection with “Internet on a chip”

June 18, 2014 // By Graham Prophet
Ease of use, and low power, are key attributes of Texas Instruments’ SimpleLink Wi-Fi CC3100 and CC3200 devices, which comprise a single-chip, low-power Wi-Fi solution with built-in programmable microcontroller, designed for the IoT

In the move towards a “connected-everything” environment TI sees a trend to re-use of existing infrastructure and specifically, the pervasiveness of WiFi. Also, the company adds, in industrial environments where Ethernet and WiFi are already widely used, new service models and new areas of connectivity are emerging; and WiFi is also being contemplated for applications that might have otherwise been fulfilled with other technologies, such as asset tracking and location-based services.

WiFi has been difficult to use, TI says, and offers the 3100 and 3200 to remedy that. Both contain a complete, integrated, WiFi function with the protocol entirely in ROM: the 3100 has a interface to an off-chip MCU – the 3200 has an integrated ARM Cortex-M4 MCU, fully-available for users to add their own code. In either case, you get what amounts to a standard API to the wireless IP connection, with Berkeley interface sockets and following the model that TI has established with SimpleLink. There is also an on-chip cryptography engine to establish secure connections to access points. All of this is in hardware, with very short power-up times (150 msec), enabling short wake-up-to-sleep cycles for low average power.

Features include:

Lowest power consumption for battery operated devices with a low power radio and advanced low power modes.

Flexibility to use any microcontroller (MCU) with the CC3100 solution or use the CC3200's integrated programmable ARM Cortex-M4 MCU, allowing customers to add their own code.

Easy development for the IoT with quick connection, cloud support and on-chip Wi-Fi, Internet and robust security protocols, requiring no prior Wi-Fi experience to get a product connected.

The ability to simply and securely connect their devices to Wi-Fi using a phone or tablet app or a web browser with multiple provisioning options including SmartConfig Technology, WPS and AP mode.

Current draw while listening to an access point is 37 mA; shut down, the device consumes 120 µA. Stable timing allows it to