Connect to the IoT through NB-IoT

December 5, 2017 Rich Nass

When it comes to connecting your IoT device to the network, there are a few options. And the folks behind those options are fairly adamant that their solution is best. Like just about every question, the real answer on which is best is, “it depends.” There are lots of factors incvolved, including cost, required bandwidth, the power levels you need to achieve, and so on.

That said, Riot Micro is backing the narrow-band protocol, known as NB-IoT, with its RM1000 baseband modem IC. The company whose goal is to enable mass cellular IoT deployment, claims that the device is the lowest power part of its kind. Note that NB-IoT is based on cellular technologies. The part also works in enhanced machine-type communication (eMTC) applications. Suitable applications for the IC include asset management, home automation, industrial, point-of-sale, smart energy, vending and automotive.

The RM1000 applies Bluetooth Low Energy and Wi-Fi architecture techniques to deliver a low-power cellular IoT solution at cost levels that are typically associated with short-range wireless techniques. By providing granular control over system resources, the architecture minimizes active power consumption in all use cases. This approach also reduces silicon area when compared to alternative signal processor-based solutions.

The RM1000 is a hardware-centric baseband controller, tightly coupled to an optimized LTE protocol stack running on a power-efficient integrated processor. The PHY layer implemented completely in hardware enables minimal Extended Discontinuous Reception (eDRX) cycle power consumption and fast wake/sleep transition times. These power savings mean that IoT modules based on the RM1000 can run longer on lower capacity batteries. Alternative solutions typically require higher frequencies, external memory, and on-chip PLLs for a high-speed clock, while software-based PHYs have longer startup and shutdown due to firmware load and processing.

The RM1000 is available now in an 8- by 8-mm 68-pad QFN package or a 3.5- by 3.2-mm WLCSP package. Reference designs are also available.

About the Author

Rich Nass

Richard Nass is the Executive Vice-President of OpenSystems Media. His key responsibilities include setting the direction for all aspects of OpenSystems Media’s Embedded and IoT product portfolios, including web sites, e-newsletters, print and digital magazines, and various other digital and print activities. He was instrumental in developing the company's on-line educational portal, Embedded University. Previously, Nass was the Brand Director for UBM’s award-winning Design News property. Prior to that, he led the content team for UBM Canon’s Medical Devices Group, as well all custom properties and events in the U.S., Europe, and Asia. Nass has been in the engineering OEM industry for more than 25 years. In prior stints, he led the Content Team at EE Times, handling the Embedded and Custom groups and the TechOnline DesignLine network of design engineering web sites. Nass holds a BSEE degree from the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

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