Posts Tagged ‘silicon labs’

Tomu Arm Board Fits into a USB Connector, Adds Buttons, Two Factor Authentication to Your Computer (Crowdfunding)

January 10th, 2018 No comments

We’ve covered many boards that claim to be the world’s smallest development board, and Tomu board does not claim anything like that, but it’s pretty small, as it’s made to fit into your computer’s USB board. It may be cool, but it could also potentially be useful, as the board exposes two (capacitive touch?) buttons, and two LEDs so you can use it as a computer accessory for example to add volume buttons, or as a Universal 2nd Factor (U2F) token supporting two-factor authentication (2FA) to login to compatible online services.

Tomu board hardware specifications:

  • MCU – Silicon Labs Happy Gecko EFM32HG309 ARM Cortex-M0+ up to 25 MHz with 64KB flash, 8KB RAM
  • USB – 1x USB 2.0 FS port
  • Misc – 2x buttons, 2x LEDs: 2 (red + green)
  • Dimensions – 1.4mm thick (0.6mm thick PCB)

Singapore based Sutajio Ko-usagi – the company behind the project – provides the hardware designs files (KiCAD + gerber), and source code for the board on Github, so you can modify the hardware and/or software to meet your requirements. A mailing list and #tomu freenode IRC channel have been setup for support.

Since the project, now launched on Crowdsupply, have now raised way more than the $2,000 stretch goal, a plastic case will also be offered with the board. Pledges start at $30 for a single Tomu board, which is quite pricey for a single board, but other rewards bring the unit price down, as you can get two for $35 ($17.5 per board), and up to 1,000 boards for $8 per board. Shipping is free to the US, $5 to $50 the rest of the world depending on the rewards, and delivery is scheduled for August 2018. website provides a getting started guide, and also explains how to use Chopstx with U2F support on the board if you are interested in two-factor authentication.

Silicon Labs Introduces $29 Thunderboard React Bluetooth 4.2 LE IoT Board and $69 Derby Car Kit

October 3rd, 2016 No comments

Earlier this summer, Silicon labs launched ThunderBoard React, a Bluetooth 4.2 LE compliant board with sensors and expansion headers for IoT applications based on the company’s BGM111 Bluetooth Smart Module, and to make it much more fun to work with the company has released a Derby Car kit controlled by the board.

thunderboard-reactThunderBoard React specifications:

  • Bluetooth Module – BGM111 Bluetooth 4.2 compliant module with integrated Tx and Rx antenna, and Cortex M4 MCU @ 38.4 MHz with 32 kB RAM and 256 kB Flash
  • Extra Storage – Footprint for 8Mb external flash storage
  • Sensors – Si7021 relative humidity and temperature, Si1133 UV index and ambient light sensor, Invensense MPU-6500 6-axis gyro/accelerometer, Si7201 hall effect position sensor
  • Expansion – 12 breakout pina to connect to BGM111 GPIOs
  • Debugging – 10-pin mini Simplicity debug connector
  • Misc – 2x momentary buttons, 2x LEDs, power selection switch
  • Power Supply – CR2032 coin cell battery slot or external power (Vext)
  • Dimensions – 44 x 25 mm
Click to Enlarge

Thunderboard React Block Diagram – Click to Enlarge

The firmware for the board can be found in Silicon Labs Bluetooth Smart SDK as a sample application, and developed using Simplicity Studio v3 and IAR Embedded Workbench for ARM v7.30. The company also provides Thunderboard Android and iOS apps with source code in order to control the board and monitor the sensors’ data. Data can optionally be synchronized to Thundercloud platform based on Firebase by Google, again with source code available on Github.

thunderboard-appBeside just getting the board to play with BLE, sensors, apps, and the cloud platform,  you could also buy the Derby Car kit. The wheels are not driven by any motors, so the car can mostly be seen as a case for the board, and used for motion sensing while the car is moving.

You’ll find more details on Thunderboard React product page, as well as the Quick Start Guide where you’ll find link to buy the board for $29, and the complete car kit (including the board) for $59.

SiLabs Wireless Gecko SoCs Support Bluetooth 4.2, Zigbee, Thread, and 2.4GHz Proprietary Protocols

February 25th, 2016 3 comments

Silicon Labs has introduced three new Wireless SoC families with Blue Gecko for Bluetooth Smart, Mighty Gecko for Thread & Zigbee, and Flex Gecko for proprietary 2.4 GHz protocols. All three families provides up to 19.5 dBm output power & hardware cryptography, and are pin-to-pin and software compatible.

SiLabs Might Gecko SoC Block Diagram

SiLabs Might Gecko SoC Block Diagram

SiLabs Wireless Gecko SoC highlights:

  • MCU Core – ARM Cortex-M4 @ 40 MHz with FPU, up to 256 KB flash, and up to 32KB SRAM. Mighty Gecko also adds a DSP
  • Peripherals
    • AES256/128 Hardware Crypto Accelerator
    • ADC (12-bit, 1 Msps, 286 µA)
    • Current DAC (4-bit, Current Source or Sink)
    • 2x Analog Comparator
    • Low Energy UART
    • 2x USART (UART, SPI, IrDA, I2S)
    • I2C (Address recognition down to EM3)
    • Timers : RTCC, LE Timer & Pulse Counter
    • 12-channel Peripheral Reflex System
    • Up to 31 GPIO
  • EFR32BG Blue Gecko Family
    • Bluetooth Smart (Bluetooth Low Energy or “BLE”) 4.2 specification as well as proprietary wireless protocols
    • Supported by Silicon Labs’ Bluetooth Smart software stack and BGScript scripting language
    • Packages – QFN48 (7 mm x 7 mm), QFN32 (5 mm x 5 mm), WLCSP (3.3 mm x 3.2 mm)
  • EFR32MG Mighty Gecko Family
    • Multiprotocol SoC solution for low-power 802.15.4 mesh networking
    • Supports Silicon Labs’ ZigBee PRO software stack for ZigBee applications and Silicon Labs’ pre-certified Thread protocol stack for IP-based mesh networks
    • Gives developers the flexibility to select the optimal protocol (ZigBee, Thread, Bluetooth Smart or proprietary) for their IoT applications
    • Packages – QFN48 (7 mm x 7 mm), QFN32 (5 mm x 5 mm)
  • EFR32FG Flex Gecko Family
    • Supports popular proprietary protocol options for diverse applications including M2M links, building automation, security and electronic shelf labels.
    • Features Silicon Labs’ radio abstraction interface layer (RAIL) software easing the complexity of proprietary wireless development by simplifying radio configuration
    • Packages – QFN48 (7 mm x 7 mm), QFN32 (5 mm x 5 mm)

The Wireless Gecko SoC portfolio is supported by Simplicity Studio development platform including AppBuilder, to configure wireless applications, Desktop Network Analyzer for debugging, and Energy Profiler for profiling energy consumption. The IDE works on Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X.

The company also provided the table below to help customer choose the best 2.4GHz protocol for their application.

Bluetooth Smart ZigBee Thread Proprietary
Network Topology P2P, Star Mesh Mesh P2P, Star, Mesh
Network Size 2 ~ 10 150 ~ 250 150 ~ 250 Custom
Line-of-Sight Range 375 m 585 m 585 m 585 m (2.4 GHz)
Data Rate 1 Mbps 250 kbps 250 kbps Custom
IP Support Yes No Yes No
Low Energy Yes Yes Yes Yes
Application Examples Wearables
Home Automation
Home Automation
Smart Metering
Industrial Automation
Home Automation
Smart Metering
Industrial Automation
Home Automation
Electronic Shelf Labels
Asset Tracking

Mighty_Gecko_DevkitThree development starter kits are available for the Blue, Mighty and Flex Gecko SoCs:

  • $99 EFR32 Blue Gecko Bluetooth Smart SoC Wireless Starter Kit (SLWSTK6020A) with mainboard, EFR32BG 2.4 GHz radio board (+10.5 dBm), 1x USB A to USB mini-B cable, 1x CR2032 battery, and a  EFR32BG Get Started Card
  • $229 Flex Gecko Starter Kit (SLWSTK6066A) with 2x Wireless starter kit mainboards, 2x EFR32FG 2.4 GHz radio boards (+19.5 dBm), 2x USB A to USB mini-B cables, 2x CR2032 batteries, 2x AA Battery holders, and a EFR32FG Get Started Card
  • $499 EFR32 Mighty Gecko Starter Kit (SLWSTK6000A) with 3x Wireless starter kit mainboards, 3 x EFR32MG 2.4 GHz 19.5 dBm radio board, 3 x EFR32MG 2.4 GHz 13 dBm radio boards, an AA Battery board (supports running +19.5 from battery), and an integrated debug and packet trace

Wireless Gecko engineering samples are available now in QFN32 and QFN48 packages, with mass production scheduled for Q2 2016. Pricing starts at $2.11 per unit for 100,000-unit quantities for Mighty Gecko SoCs, $2.06 for Flex Gecko SoCs, and $0.99 for Blue Gecko SoCs. More details can be found on SiLabs Wireless Gecko product page.

Via EETimes

Thunderboard Wear is a $75 Smartwatch Development Board by Silicon Labs

December 2nd, 2015 4 comments

A few days ago I watched an’s video about an ARM’s smartwatch reference design running mbed OS 3.0, powered by a Silicon Labs EFM32 Giant Gecko Cortex M3 MCU, and promising up to 2 months battery life on a 160 mAh battery. While I could not find the full details about the reference design, I noticed Silicon Labs also launched a development board called Thunderboard Wear, based on the same platform, just quite bigger, and still wearable… (Sort of)

Thunderboard_WearThunderboard Wear specifications:

  • MCU – Silicon Labs EFM32GG995F1024 ARM Cortex-M3 MCU up to 48 MHz with 128 kB RAM,1 MB Flash
  • External Memory – 256 kB external SRAM
  • External Storage – micro SD card slot
  • Display – 128×128 pixel Memory LCD from Sharp
  • Connectivity – Bluetooth 4.1 smart module (Silicon Labs BGM111), upgradeable to Bluetooth 4.2
  • Sensors
    • Ambient Light Sensing (ALS) and Proximity/Gesture via Silicon Labs Si1141.
    • Optical hear-rate monitoring (HRM) via Silicon Labs Si1144
    • 9-axis accel/gyro/magnetometer Bosch
  • USB – 2x micro USB port (device and debug)
  • Debugging
    • Built in debugger with virtual COM port
    • Support for EFM32 STK debugger
  • Misc – Touch button and touch slider, user buttons, vibration motor for tactile feedback
  • Power Supply – Coin-cell battery, USB, or external power source.
  • Dimensions – N/A
Block Diagram

Block Diagram

EFM32 STK debugger (not included) allows for advanced/precise energy monitoring, and full ETM trace. The platform also support mbed Online IDE exports for Simplicity Studio available for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. Source code is available on

Thunderboard Wear evaluation board ships with an adjustable strap, ribbon cables for energy monitoring, and quick start guide.

The first 1,000 boards can be pre-ordered on Element14 for a discounted price. Price is $75 in the US, but will vary by depending on the country where the kit is purchased. More details may be available on Silicon labs’ Thunderboard Wear product page.

Weightless Development Kits are Finally Available (Sort of)

October 9th, 2015 2 comments

The first version of the Weightless standard aiming at lowering cost of IoT communications was published in 2013, but so far development kits were nowhere to be found. Nwave has now launched a Weightless-N SDK using sub-GHz spectrum, but not the white space spectrum used by Weightless-W, probably due to regulatory hurdles.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Specifications and features of Nwave development board:

  • MCU – Silicon Labs EFM32G210F128 ARM Cortex M3 MCU @ 32 MHz with 128KB flash, 16KB SRAM
  • Connectivity – RM3 radio module (868MHz) and antenna connector (X3)
  • USB – X1 USB port for connection to PC or UART interface, X2 micro USB port
  • Debugging – UART, and 10-pin JTAG connector (X4)
  • Expansion header – 16 through holes for GND, 3.3V, GPIOs, ADC, Timers output, I2C, etc… (X5)
  • Misc – Three Jumpers for UART and other selections (TBD), reset buttons for USB ports?
  • Power – 5V via USB ?
  • Dimensions – N/A

I could not find any details about RM3 radio module, and the company only mentions NW1000 module, also a sub-GHz chip (868 to 915 MHz) on their radio modules page. Software development tools includ Simplicty Studio with GCC for Windows and Linux, as well as IAR Embedded Workbench for Windows, and the board also supports ARM Cortex Microcontroller Software Interface Standard (CMSIS). Programming templates and examples of telemetry applications are provided.

The Weightless SIG now has 100 Weightless development kits, allegedly priced at £699 (~$1073 US) each, which it intends to giveaway to the first 100 Weightless Associate Members (membership: £900 per year). But once you submit a Weightless product for certification, the membership fee will be reimbursed too.  So that’s great if you are a company planning to design and manufacture products in quantities, but if you are just an hobbyist / maker, you’ll probably have to wait a bit longer to experiment with Weightless. You can find more details on Weightless-N SDK page, and especially on Nwave development kit product page.

Thread is a New IP-based Wireless Protocol Leveraging 6LoWPAN and 802.15.4 Standards

July 21st, 2014 2 comments

Wi-Fi is a neat way to connect devices to Internet, but it has two main inconveniences: relatively high cost and power consumption. Luckily there are standards that addresses the cost and power consumption issues. Radio chips based on IEEE 802.15.4, a standard which specifies the physical layer and media access control for low-rate wireless personal area networks, are common place and found in many existing devices relying on higher level wireless protocols such as ZigBee, ISA100.11a, WirelessHART, and MiWi. AFAIK, Zigbee is the most popular of the aforementioned protocols, but is hindered by the requirements of the license for commercial products (annual fee), Zigbee membership requirements conflict with many open source license such as GPL, and the standard suffers from lack of interoperability and IPv6 support, and power requirements that are too high for some applications. So a consortium of seven companies namely ARM, Big Ass Fans, Freescale, Nest, Samsung, Silicon Labs, and Yale Security, have come together to start working on “Thread”, a new wireless protocol leveraging 802.15.4 standard and existing transceiver chips,  that is legacy-free, and is based on 6LoWPAN (Low Power IPv6 connectivity), and UDP protocols.



Thread specifications are currently work in progress, but it will be a low power IP based open protocol supporting mesh networking (Up to 250 devices), that is both secure and user-friendly, and provides fast-time to market thanks to existing radio silicon. It will be used in various products such as electric appliances, access control, climate control, energy management, lighting, as well as safety and security devices. Two products companies are part of the group Nest and Big Ass Fans, so thermostats and fans based on Thread are likely to be available soon. Nest V2 actually comes with a 802.15.4 capable SoC (Ember EM357) that used to be disabled, but “is already being used successfully in Nest products today” thanks to a simple firmware upgrade, although I’m not sure if this is the case internally, or on customer’s premises.

The Thread Group is now looking for new members, and companies that are interested in Thread can join the consortium as a Sponsor (with more voting rights), or Contributor member. There’s no individual membership at this stage.

Via Semiwiki

Silicon Labs Unveils EFM32 Zero Gecko MCU Family Based on ARM Cortex M0+

November 4th, 2013 No comments

Silicon Labs, who bought Energy Micro earlier this year, has recently introduced a new family of 32-bit MCU based on ARM Cortex M0+ called EFM32 Zero Gecko, as well as the corresponding starter kit. These ultra low power MCUs (currently 16 products) are destined to be used in  IoT applications such as mobile health and fitness products, smart watches, activity trackers, smart meters, security systems and wireless sensor nodes, as well as battery-less systems powered by harvested energy.

EFM32 Zero Gecko

EFM32 Zero Gecko

The key features of this family include:

  • ARM Cortex-M0+ core @ 24 MHz
  • 4kb to 32 kB flash and 2kb to 4 kB RAM memory
  • 17 to 37 GPIO
  • Single 1.85–3.8 V power supply
  • 5 Power modes
  • Hardware AES (Some models only)
  • -40° to 85 °C operation range
  • Package options: QFN24, QFN32 and QFN48

EFM32ZG222F32, the Zero Gecko MCU with the most memory and features, has the following specifications:

  • ARM Cortex-M0+ CPU platform @ up to 24 MHz with Wake-up Interrupt Controller
  • Energy Management System:
    • 20 nA @ 3 V Shutoff Mode
    • 0.5 μA @ 3 V Stop Mode, including Power-on Reset, Brown-out Detector, RAM and CPU retention
    • 0.9 μA @ 3 V Deep Sleep Mode, including RTC with 32.768 kHz oscillator, Power-on Reset, Brown-out Detector, RAM and CPU retention
    • 46 μA/MHz @ 3 V Sleep Mode
    • 114 μA/MHz @ 3 V Run Mode, with code executed from flash
  • Memory – 32 KB Flash, 4 KB RAM
  • 37 General Purpose I/O pins:
    • Configurable push-pull, open-drain, pull-up/down, input filter, drive strength
    • Configurable peripheral I/O locations
    • 16 asynchronous external interrupts
    • Output state retention and wake-up from Shutoff Mode
  • 4 Channel DMA Controller
  • 4 Channel Peripheral Reflex System (PRS) for autonomous inter-peripheral signaling
  • Hardware AES with 128-bit keys in 54 cycles
  • Timers/Counters:
    • 2× 16-bit Timer/Counter
    • 2×3 Compare/Capture/PWM channels
    • 1× 24-bit Real-Time Counter
    • 1× 16-bit Pulse Counter
    • Watchdog Timer with dedicated RC oscillator @ 50 nA
  • Communication interfaces:
    • 1× Universal Synchronous/Asynchronous Receiver/Transmitter – UART/SPI/SmartCard (ISO 7816) /IrDA/I2S with triple buffered full/half-duplex operation
    • Low Energy UART – Autonomous operation with DMA in Deep Sleep Mode
    • I2C Interface with SMBus support – Address recognition in Stop Mode
  • Ultra low power precision analog peripherals
    • 12-bit 1 Msamples/s Analog to Digital Converter – 4 single ended channels/ differential channels, On-chip temperature sensor
    • Current Digital to Analog Converter – Selectable current range between 0.05 and 64 uA
    • 1× Analog Comparator – Capacitive sensing with up to 5 inputs
    • Supply Voltage Comparator
  • Ultra efficient Power-on Reset and Brown-Out Detector
  • 2-pin Serial Wire Debug interface
  • Pre-Programmed UART Bootloader
  • Temperature range -40 to 85 ºC
  • Single power supply 1.85 to 3.8 V
  • TQFP48 package

The company also provides a starter kit (EFM32ZG-STK3200) featuring EFM32ZG222F32 MCU (See specs above) with the following key features:

  • EFM32ZG222F32 Zero Gecko MCU
  • Advanced Energy Monitoring v2
  • Real-time energy and power profiling
  • Backup Capacitor for RTC mode
  • USB interface for Host/Device/OTG
  • LESENSE demo ready
  • Light, LC and touch sensors
  • SEGGER J-Link debugger
  • Free evaluation compiler versions
  • Supported by Simplicity Studio in Windows, Linux and Mac OS X.

EFM32ZG-STK3200 Starter Kit

Samples of Silicon Labs EFM32 Zero Gecko MCUs are available now in QFN and QFP packages, and production quantities are planned for Q4 2013. Product pricing for the Zero Gecko MCUs in 100,000-unit quantities begins at $0.49. The EFM32ZG-STK3200 starter kit is available now and priced at $69. It’s also possible to win one, if you have an interesting project, and are lucky.

You can find more information on EFM32 Zero Gecko and EFM32ZG-STK3200 Starter Kit pages. You may also want to read one user’s review of the Zero Gecko Starter Kit.

Thanks to Viswa for the tip.