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Multi-Protocol Chip Tries to Desegregate the Internet of Things

Jan. 5, 2017
The wireless chip that Qorvo released on Tuesday is latest specimen to incorporate multiple radios that connect things like heating systems and light bulbs.

The wireless chip that Qorvo released on Tuesday is latest specimen to incorporate multiple radios that can improve reliability and connect things like heating systems and light bulbs. The new product, also known as the GP695, enables devices to connect devices that might have been isolated on a single type of network.

The new chip is built with hardware that supports Zigbee, Bluetooth, and Thread to establish links between the types of devices on display at the Consumer Electronics Show this week in Las Vegas. It also supports personal area networks based on the IEEE 802.15.4 standard, like Linear Technology’s Wireless Hart and Microchip’s MiWi standards.

Using the type of chip like Qorvo’s, “designers can let consumers control their smart homes without worrying about evolving IoT standards,” said Cees Links, the general manager of Qorvo’s wireless connectivity business, formerly GreenPeak Technologies before Qorvo bought the company earlier this year.

For example, a homeowner could use their mobile phones to connect a door lock equipped with the GP695 to a smart home hub using the phone’s Bluetooth transmitter. The door lock could then be opened or closed from the mobile phone over Bluetooth or over Zigbee when security cameras in the house detect no one home.

Qorvo is not alone in etching different types of radio circuits onto a single chip. In May, the Belgian electronics research center Imec unveiled a radio chip that contains hardware for more than five different low-power wide area networks, including the popular LoRa and Sigfox, as well as Zigbee and Thread. Hmicro, a start-up making wireless sensors for hospitals, has built a platform that integrates circuits for Wi-Fi, medical frequency bands, and ultra-wideband channels.

The GP695 uses an ARM Cortex-M4 microcontroller and features Qorvo Wi-Fi interference mitigation technology and has an extended range. GP695 complements the multi-protocol GP712, which was released in 2016 for use with smart home gateways. 

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