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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Silabs targets $5 chip at complex IoT designs

By Nick Flaherty

Silicon Labs has launched a new family of its Giant Gecko controllers with 2Mbytes of flash and a 72MHz ARM M4 processor core for complex nodes in the Internet of Things (IoT).

The EFM32GG11 Giant Gecko family is targeting smart metering, asset tracking, industrial/building automation, wearables and personal medical applications with a starting price of $5.66 in volume. 

The chip includes hardware support for AES encryption as well as fine grained security to control access to the peripherals such as LCD and capacitative touch sensors and a NIST-certified true random number generator (TRNG) for higher security randomization. 

“Giant Gecko MCUs provide a no-compromise user experience previously available only on more power-hungry MCUs,” said Tom Pannell, Senior Marketing Director for IoT products at Silicon Labs. “The culmination of ten years of Gecko evolution, the Giant Gecko family gives developers a tremendous leap forward in performance, features and design capabilities.”

The Giant Gecko family has SD/MMC and Octal/Quad-SPI memory interfaces to support additional memory expansion capabilities for memory-intensive applications as well as fast wake-up/sleep transitions and a low-energy fabric allowing autonomous access to sensor inputs and enabling low-power peripherals to operate autonomously. The key power consumption is 77 μA/MHz in active mode and 1.6 μA in deep sleep mode.

Peripherals include:
• 10/100 Ethernet media access control (MAC) for IP-based industrial control
• Secure digital input output (SDIO) Wi-Fi interface for IP-based wireless cloud connectivity
• Single or dual CAN bus controllers for industrial applications
• Crystal-free USB controller for cost-effective, ultra-low-energy universal connectivity
• Thin film transistor (TFT) display hardware acceleration with per-pixel alpha blending and ultra-low-energy segment LCD driver, enabling richer user interfaces
• Current-based capacitive sense engine providing robust touch input and ultra-low power wake-on-touch, simplifying the development of cap-sense applications

Giant Gecko MCUs will be available in QFN, QFP and BGA package options with up to 192 pins, including many packages that are footprint-compatible with existing EFM32 MCUs, in early 2018. Software compatibility across the EFM32 MCU and EFR32 Wireless Gecko SoC portfolio enables broad software reuse and reduced design time and cost for developers.

Silicon Labs’ Simplicity Studio development tools support the Gecko MCUs, giving developers one-click access to everything needed to complete projects in a unified Eclipse-based environment. Simplicity Studio includes graphical configuration, advanced energy monitoring, network analysis and capacitive touch configuration tools, as well as software examples and documentation. Giant Gecko MCUs natively support Micrium OS, and developers have easy access to Micrium tools through Simplicity Studio.

Engineering samples of the EFM32GG11 Giant Gecko MCUs are available today, and production quantities are planned for Q1 2018. Pricing for EFM32GG11 MCUs in 10,000-unit quantities begins at $5.66. The SLSTK3701A Giant Gecko Starter Kit is available now and priced at $99.99. 

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