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Thursday, February 22, 2018

Murata teams with Altair and ST on smallest CAT-M/NB1 IoT module

By Nick Flaherty www.flaherty.co.uk

Murata is using Altair Semiconductor's dual-mode CAT-M1/NB1 chipset and STMicroelectronics' STM32 MCU and ST33 Secure MCU for a new generation of cellular IoT modules and end nodes devices.

The modules allow LTE connectivity for multiple vertical markets, including ultra-small Asset Tags, pharmaceuticals/healthcare devices, wearable devices and GNSS trackers. The solutions will include support for Amazon Web Services (AWS) and other Cloud-based service providers. 

"The CAT-M/NB1 module with GNSS will be the world's smallest form factor solution enabling new possibilities and applications that were not possible before. Additionally, their simplicity and high level of integration will drastically reduce time to market," said Mehul Udani, General Manager, Connectivity Solutions at Murata 

The ALT1250 chipset powers Murata's Type 1SE end device and Type 1SC module, supports CAT-M1 and NB1 narrowband communications over existing cellular 4G networks. It incorporates Altair's OneSKU RF technology to enable multiple LTE band combinations, as well as CAT-M1 and NB1 functionality with a single hardware design. 

The module measures 11.1x11.4x1.4 mm, which is less than half the area of many other commercial solutions, and IoT providers can pair this module with any of the 700+ STM32 microcontrollers to address a wider range of IoT applications.

The ISE end device measures 15 x 17 x 1.4 mm, using the STM32L462REY6 is an ultra-low-power MCU which features an Arm Cortex-M4 running at 80MHz with 512KB Flash and 160 KB SRAM. The STM32L4 MCU has several low-power modes, including a Standby mode that consumes only 450nA while retaining 16 KBytes of SRAM and RTC running, and an optimised Shutdown mode that draws only 8nA. 

The ST33J2M0 Secure Microcontroller is based on the 32-bit Arm SecurCore SC300 processor, with 2Mbytes of embedded flash to store securely sensitive data, hardware accelerators for advanced cryptographic functions and additional security features to help protecting against advanced form of attacks.

Additional features include GNSS and cellular-based positioning engines, an IoT-optimized security framework, and integrated VoLTE support. The ALT1250 supports both the 3GPP power saving mode (PSM) and eDRX that can increase battery life to up to 15 years in certain use cases. The ALT1250 will be firmware-upgradable to support the next generation NB2 protocol. 

"This collaboration with Murata and Altair makes the breadth of STM32-family MCUs, and its outstanding development ecosystem, available to Murata's customers and is an ideal solution to help minimize the size, maximize the efficiency, and quickly prototype and implement Murata's CAT-M/NB1 IoT solutions," said Michel Buffa Group Vice President, Microcontroller Division General Manager, STMicroelectronics.

Samples of the 1SC Type radio modules will be available in March and 1SE Type samples are expected in June.

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