ZigBee devices are moving up in integration and down in cost, signaling a potential takeoff for the wireless networking technology. Ember Corp. is ramping up production of what it says is the first single-chip ZigBee solution, as well as its second-generation ZigBee software stack, EmberZNet 2.0.
While many ZigBee providers are still unveiling multichip packages, Ember's 2.4 GHz EM250 puts a full solution in a package that's only 7 mm per side. It houses both an IEEE 802.15.4-compliant radio transceiver and a 12 MHz 16-bit microprocessor, as well as 128 kbytes of Flash and 5 kbytes of RAM.
Transmission rates run up to 250 kbits per sec. Transmission power goes from -32 dBm to +4 dBm, while receive sensitivity is -94 dBm nominal. The chip is designed to work in battery-powered applications. It draws 29 and 30 mA during reception and transmission, requiring only 1 ΅A during its sleep mode. Voltage levels range from 2.1 to 3.6V, while the crystal operates at 24 MHz.
The EmberZNet 2.0 software stack is the company's second generation ZigBee stack and its fifth generation mesh networking stack. Along with full ZigBee support, it supports application profiles for home controls and user-defined network applications. A transport layer provides reliable wireless communications between nodes and enables distributed bindings. Coupled with Ember's application programming interface, it lets existing customers port EmberNet applications to ZigBee.
A development kit provides an Integrated Development Environment with distributed network debugging and visualization tools, letting developers simultaneously connect to target devices, upload firmware, and collect debugging information across multiple devices. Protocol analysis and traffic visualization engines let developers correlate events occurring on their devices with network communication events to cut development times. The IDE supports a hardware-based network level debugging so developers can identify complicated bugs that can't be caught by examining a single node.
Shipments begin in the summer at prices under $4 each in high volumes.
Ember's chip provides a ZigBee solution in a 7 x 7 mm package.