GreenPeak introduces ultra low power communications controller chip for wireless sensor networks

10 June 2008

Utrecht-based GreenPeak Technologies has announced what it claims to be the only IEEE 802.15.4 standard compliant chip available with extreme low power features that enable energy harvesting solutions for wireless sensor networks.

GP500c communications controller
GP500c communications controller

The Emerald GP500C is a standards compliant communications controller that incorporates a transceiver with a fully integrated communications layer and an on-chip energy manager. Unlike other solutions on the market, it is an “autonomous transceiver” able to drive and control the data communication instead of being driven by a microcontroller. By greatly reducing energy consumption, the architectural concept enables end nodes to run on energy harvesting devices and to be truly wireless, free of power cords and free of batteries
Cees Links, CEO of GreenPeak said: “Ultra low power consumption in wireless sensor networks is the determining precondition needed for mass market adoption: it enables battery-free and therefore maintenance-free and truly green wireless sensor networks. Beyond that, the GP500C is a low cost solution which enables manufacturers to provide standard-compliant two-way communication for remote wireless light switching and dimming, HVAC control, access control and automated metering.”
Roy Freeland, Chief Executive of vibration energy-harvesting Perpetuum Ltd said:
“Energy harvesting is the preferred solution for powering wireless sensing and this new ultra low power GreenPeak communications controller chip is an important step in developing the enormous potential of this technology.”
The radio, claims Greenpeak, creates superior reliable communication over a significant indoor range (30-50m, 100-150 feet) because it utilises embedded hardware based antenna diversity that reduces dead spots. The device includes other link reliability features such as message-over-message enabling, a robust signal processing engine, and interference detection and avoidance mechanisms.
Designs using the Emerald GP500C communications controller are fully IEEE 802.15.4 compliant. Developers have the option to use GreenPeak’s ultra low power networking protocol which reaches beyond standard implementations while maintaining standard compliance.
The Emerald GP500C consumes about 10-25% of the energy of traditional microcontroller based designs (depending on the usage profile) by using a lower peak current, an ultra low leakage current, and very short transmission times via just-in-time transmission scheduling. The low energy consumption allows developers to build sensor systems with a peak current of about 20mA (two times lower than typical) and a system sleep mode of below 100nA (ten times less than typical) without compromising the network reliability.
The chip is delivered with a reference design and development kit that allows OEMs to build their own communication modules and applications. It will also support a wide range of software stacks that can run on different processors including ZigBee Pro as well as Low Power Routing, Low Power Sensing (robust communication under intermittent power availability), a micro stack and other application-dedicated low power protocols. All key functions and features are integrated and minimal external components are required.

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