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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Tri-mode chips become a thing

By Nick Flaherty

Qualcomm Technologies is launching a System-on-chip (SoC) device for the Internet of Things (IoT) that combine three key wireless technologies -  Bluetooth Low Energy 5, Dual-band Wi-Fi, and 802.15.4 ZigBee and Thread.

The tri-mode QCA4020 has a dedicated ARM Cortex M4 processor core for customer applications aongside a low power ARM Cortex M0 core for Bluetooth Low Energy drivers and 802.15.4 control and security functions. It also supports the CSRmesh mesh networking capability which Qualcomm acquired with Cambridge Silicon Radio in 2015.

A smaller dual mode chip, the QCA4024, integrates Bluetooth Low Energy 5 and 802.15.4 without the WiFi. 
Both use Qualcomm's Network IoT Connectivity Platform, including  coexistence across technologies with pre-integrated support for HomeKit and the Open Connectivity Foundation (OCF) specifications, as well as support for AWS IoT software development kit (SDK) and Microsoft Azure Internet-of-Things (IoT) Devices SDK to connect with Azure IoT Hub. 

With the surge of connected devices in the home and public places, implementing security features for IoT device attacks is a challenge felt industry-wide. Qualcomm Technologies has a strong foundation in device security that stems from our experience with mobile platforms and therefore is uniquely positioned to support IoT security based solutions to help address vulnerabilities and provide advanced security features for devices. The QCA4020 and QCA4024 both have hardware-based security with secure boot, trusted execution environment, encrypted storage, key provisioning and wireless protocol security. This gives OEMs the option of replacing external security chips and potential for bill of materials (BOM) savings.

“Qualcomm Technologies is bringing new interoperability for IoT and addressing ecosystem fragmentation by offering multiple radio, standards, protocols and connectivity framework support on a single-chip solution. This is a game-changer for manufacturers and consumers alike,” said Raj Talluri, senior vice president, product management at Qualcomm Technologies. “The addition of our industry-leading hardware security features allows manufacturers and developers to support applications including smart cities, toys, home control and automation, networking and home entertainment and offer their customers more advanced security that are cost effective.”

These solutions can be used to integrate Bluetooth Low Energy 5, Wi-Fi and 15.4 connectivity capabilities across the Qualcomm Network range of solutions complementing portions of the product portfolio beyond IoT devices, such as the recently announced IPQ8074 and QCA6290

The QCA4020 and QCA4024 are sampling with select OEMs today and expected to be commercially available in the second half of 2017.

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