ZigBee devices step up to growing IoT apps

February 25, 2014 // By Graham Prophet
The ARM-based EM358x Ember ZigBee SoC family provides larger memory options for advanced smart energy and home automation applications.

Silicon Labs has added to its ARM-based Ember ZigBee system-on-chip (SoC) portfolio delivering wireless performance, energy efficiency and reliability for the Internet of Things (IoT). Silicon Labs' EM358x SoC family provides additional flash and RAM memory options to meet the needs of larger, more complex smart energy and home automation designs. The Ember ZigBee family also offers USB connectivity and a local storage bootloader to help developers reduce bill of material (BOM) cost and system complexity.

The EM358x SoC family provides a mesh networking platform for ZigBee applications for the IoT, which today often incorporate multiple processors. The EM358x family includes six SoC products that combine a 2.4 GHz IEEE 802.15.4 RF transceiver, an ARM Cortex-M3 processor, 256 kB or 512 kB of flash memory, and 32 kB or 64 kB of RAM with hardware-supported network-level debugging features. The additional memory minimises the need for a separate system processor, enabling developers to collapse some or all of their multi-processor designs into a single ZigBee SoC to reduce BOM cost and the size of the final product. By offering larger flash and RAM memory options, the EM358x SoC family enables developers to future-proof smart energy applications such as smart meters, which often require more code space to store new firmware and additional RAM enabling product lifespans of up to 20 years.

The EM358x SoC family has an on-chip USB peripheral to simplify system programming and eliminate the need for an external USB controller. Many ZigBee-enabled devices require a USB connection to provide an easy-to-use serial application interface or a service port to the device. The USB port can also be used to download new firmware images onto the device, reducing maintenance cost.

The EM358x SoC family features a local storage bootloader that eases application development and enables the embedded software to be field-upgraded after the Ember ZigBee-enabled product leaves the factory. The new bootloader capability eliminates the need for external flash