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Broadcom’s WICED™ CORE Enhanced Low Power Devices: Four Times the Battery Life for IoT Sensors | Cypress Semiconductor

Broadcom’s WICED™ CORE Enhanced Low Power Devices: Four Times the Battery Life for IoT Sensors

One of the biggest gripes about early generations of sensor-driven Internet of Things devices (think: beacons, wearables and such) is that they’re power-hungry.

To collect and analyze the most accurate data, whether it’s to look at consumer shopping habits or to meet a fitness goal, these devices need to be active 24/7.

Yet beacons, medical monitoring devices, wearables and other small gadgets pose a unique problem in their design: there’s an inherent tradeoff between processing power, industrial design and the size of the battery.

Since they’re meant to be accessories worn on the body, the size of the battery has to be small and light. And the bigger the battery, the less room there is for raw computing hardware.

Broadcom is making headway in getting around this problem by leveraging two of its biggest strengths: integrating more functionality into ever-smaller silicon real estate, while tapping power-saving features and advanced connectivity protocols.

Ahead of a media event in San Francisco, Broadcom today introduced the latest addition to its Bluetooth Smart WICED™ connectivity lineup that grows the processing power and shrinks the battery consumption of wearables, smartwatches, sensors and other connected Internet of Things devices.

“Broadcom has integrated protocol stacks, deep program memory and application processing power into a single device with an incredibly small footprint,” said Brian Bedrosian, senior director, product marketing, wireless connectivity at Broadcom. “Device makers can have everything needed to develop a high performance, low-power product in one single chip— it’s all in there.”

The company announced a trio of WICED CORE Enhanced Low Power (ELP) systems-on-a-chip (SoCs) that quadruples battery life of wearables — up to four years when paired with a standard coin cell battery.

Big Tech, Tiny Package

The new WICED™ CORE ELP family packs a serious technology punch in a tiny package that’s about half the size of your pinkie nail.

It integrates a high performance microcontroller (MCU), flash memory, RAM, and a Bluetooth and Bluetooth Smart software stack onto single 3 mm x 3 mm SoCs.

Broadcom’s WICED CORE ELP lineup includes:

  • BCM20719, which supports both Bluetooth and Bluetooth Smart protocols
  • BCM20729, which supports Zigbee and 6LoWPAN protocols
  • BCM20739, which supports Bluetooth, Bluetooth Smart and IEEE 802.15.4 protocols

The newest connected devices will continue to push the limits of size, performance, security, and battery life. In the near future, when sensors are deployed for medical monitoring, diagnostics or tapped by the military, those factors count much more than convenience.

4X Battery Life

The average fitness band or sensor “wakes up” and takes a reading every second or so, which gives it a battery life of about a year, Bedrosian said. That’s where battery-sipping technologies such as Bluetooth Smart play a critical role.

“In the same scenario with Broadcom’s WICED CORE ELP SoCs the coin cell battery will last up to four years,” he said.

Broadcom’s technology enables the battery to be more efficient as it quickly cycles through “sleep” and “awake” states, enabling it to last four times as long as current-generation devices.

Because it has this longer life cycle on a super small battery, the technology lends itself to many more applications, Bedrosian said, such as Bluetooth location beacons for retail or location tracking, physical security wearables that enable access to buildings or protected files, and medical monitoring and diagnostics for outpatient care.

These types of applications also benefit from the greater computing power on board.

Today’s wearables – especially smartwatches – aren’t great at handling data-intensive tasks that are normally done only with a heftier or even secondary processor, such in a paired smartphone.

Tomorrow’s devices are set to be far more powerful, with native processing that will be able to do more with the data they gather because all of the memory (both RAM and Flash) and processors are integrated. This is especially important for making sense of biometric health data or for complex audio processing, among other applications.

Bluetooth Smart SoCs are helping to bridge the gap by integrating processors with enough oomph to run complex applications (such as always-on or location-tracking apps) and to communicate directly with other devices and the cloud, while maintaining minimal power consumption to extend battery life.

“The WICED CORE ELP offers the most computational power and memory at the lowest energy consumption and smallest footprint,” Bedrosian said.

Broadcom’s WICED CORE ELP family is sampling with customers now.

The company is demonstrating other consumer and commercial products built on the WICED™ platform at its “Geek Peek” preview event ahead of January’s Consumer Electronics Show.

Get the more news from Broadcom by following the conversation on Twitter at #GeekPeek, liking us on Facebook and following the blog.

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