Eigencomm EC616/EC616S are Cortex-M3 microcontrollers supporting the 3GPP R13/R14 NB-IoT standard, with 3GPP R14 notably introducing the newer LTE Cat-NB2 standard allowing higher bitrates up to 127 kbps downlink, and up to 159 kbps uplink, and OTDOA and E-CID positioning methods.
Both EC616 and EC616S are virtually identical, but the EC616S comes with fewer GPIOs and is designed for the lowest possible BoM cost for modules as small as 10×10 mm. Both target similar IoT applications such as wireless meter reading, smoke detection, smart street lights, smart logistics, asset tracking, smart fire monitoring, smart parking, smart home, wearable devices, industry 4.0, smart agriculture, and others.
Eigencomm EC616/EC616S specifications:
- MCU core – Arm Cortex-M3 @ up to 204 MHz
- Frequency band – 663 MHz to 2200 MHz
- Protocol version – 3GPP R13/R14
- Built-in PA output power – 23dBm
- Receiver sensitivity – EC616: -118 dBm, EC616S: -117 dBm
- EC616 – 2x SPI, 2x I2C, 26x GPIO, 3x UART, 6x PWM, 4x ADC, 1x USIM
- EC616S – 2x SPI, 2x I2C, 16x GPIO, 3x UART, 6x PWM, 4x ADC, 1x USIM
- Operating Voltage: 2.2V ~ 4.5V
- Power Consumption
- Power Saving Mode (PSM): 0.8uA
- Idle (DRX 2.56s): 0.11mA
- EC616 – TFBGA (5.7 x 5.7 x 1.05mm)
- EC616S – QFN52 (6 x 6 x 0.9mm)
- Temperature Range – -40°C to +85°C
The company says they’ve tested 3GPP Release 14 compatibility (Cat-M2, 2-HARQ to reach maximum bitrate) with China Mobile, China Telecom, and China Unicom, but the chip should work on any compatible networks. Most information is currently available in Chinese on the product page and a press release from 2018, but I’ve only just heard about it now.
I could also notice a Github repo for EC616 with source code for the Air320 module working with LuatOS (Lua firmware). The module used to be sold on Taobao, but I can’t find it anywhere for sale anymore.
But other Chinese companies also launched EC616/EC616S modules this year with Tuya NE1 module and MeiG Smart introducing three modules last January. Next week, we should also have more details about AI Thinker’s own EC616S modules which should be easier to purchase outside of China.
Jean-Luc started CNX Software in 2010 as a part-time endeavor, before quitting his job as a software engineering manager, and starting to write daily news, and reviews full time later in 2011.