Development board gets low-power wireless connectivity

22-04-2016 | By Paul Whytock

System-on-Chip specialists, Imagination Technologies, and fabless supplier of low-power semiconductor radio devices Cascoda, have teamed-up to integrate Cascoda’s communications technology into Imagination’s Creator Ci40 microcomputer. This is the board at the centre of Creator Ci40 IoT-in-a-Box development kit.

With Cascoda’s 802.15.4 transceiver modem in the Creator Ci40, users can develop applications with 6LoWPAN, a low-power wireless mesh network where every node has its own IPv6 address, thereby allowing it to connect directly to the Internet using open standards.

Low-power networks

As an open standard 6LoWPAN, while originally developed to support IEEE 802.15.4 low-power wireless networks in the 2.4-GHz band, is now being adapted and used in various other networking media including Sub-1 GHz low-power RF, Bluetooth Smart, power line control and low-power Wi-Fi. The radio architecture from Cascoda is claimed to increase the range of wireless personal area networks without impacting on power consumption.

Based on this particular architecture, the Cascoda CA-8210 transceiver for 802.15.4 2, 4GHz communications can achieve what is described as whole-house coverage without needing external amplifier components.

Cascoda’s technology is said to help overcome one of the key design challenges of IoT systems by providing enhanced-range low-power connectivity. This is extremely important for battery-powered systems.

The company also believes the Creator Ci40 IoT-in-a-Box development kit assists small to medium sized companies to rapidly prototype IoT platforms.

Expansion boards

The central development board is the Creator Ci40 microcomputer with a dual-core, dual-threaded 550MHz MIPS processor. Operating system support includes GNU/Linux distributions such as OpenWrt, Debian, Contiki and Google’s Brillo OS for IoT. Creator Ci40 features numerous I/Os and peripherals so users can add various accessories and expansion boards.

Extra security

The Ci40 also has a dedicated Trusted Platform Module (TPM) chip for added security. TPM is a microcontroller that will safely store artifacts used to authenticate the platform. Laptops are a good example. These artifacts can include passwords, certificates, or encryption keys. A TPM can also be used to store platform measurements that help ensure that the platform remains trustworthy. Authentication and attestation, a process helping to prove that a platform is trustworthy and has not been breached, are actions that ensure safer computing.

In addition to the 802.15.4 6LoWPAN functionality, the Creator Ci40 microcomputer also features support for other key low-power wireless and wired protocols, including 802.11ac 2×2 Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1, both smart and classic and super-fast Ethernet.


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By Paul Whytock

Paul Whytock is Technology Correspondent for Electropages. He has reported extensively on the electronics industry in Europe, the United States and the Far East for over thirty years. Prior to entering journalism, he worked as a design engineer with Ford Motor Company at locations in England, Germany, Holland and Belgium.