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New Modules Aim to Bring Wireless Connectivity to Everyday Products

Silicon Labs' mesh-networking modules are intended to ease the development and time to market of BLE, Bluetooth mesh, Zigbee and Thread mesh functionality in lighting, appliances and other products.
By Claire Swedberg
Oct 14, 2019

Semiconductor and Internet of Things (IoT) solutions company Silicon Labs has released two new mesh-networking modules intended to enable companies such as lighting and building-automation manufacturers to integrate Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), Bluetooth mesh, Zigbee or Thread mesh networks into their products. The Wireless Gecko xGM210L and xGM210P Series 2 modules leverage the company's Series 2 platform to provide what it says will be greater security and better RF functionality than predecessor technologies.

The company began providing samples and production quantities of the xGM210P module in September 2019, while the xGM210L is expected to be made available later this year. The firm is also selling Wireless Gecko starter kits and Series 2 radio boards. In April 2019, it released its Series 2 system-on-chip (SoC) portfolio targeting line-powered IoT applications. The SoCs have been integrated into the Series 2 modules to provide wireless connectivity and security functionality.

Silicon Labs' IoT mesh-networking module
The goal of the Series 2 portfolio, the company reports, is to enable IoT innovation by product manufacturers that may not have the lead time or budget required for developing mesh-networking SoCs and related modules, or for handling RF certification. The Series 2 modules are pre-certified, Silicon Labs explains, and can be quickly applied to an existing LED bulb design, or to other commercial or industrial products, without the added cost of RF design, certification and software development. In fact, the firm has been selling IoT products for several years that are intended to make mesh-networking possible with everyday applications, such as smart LED light bulbs, factory-automation systems and heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems.

Silicon Labs acquired Integration Associates in 2008, which provided the company with a short-range wireless portfolio for smart meters and building automation. The firm next acquired Zigbee technology company Ember in 2012, and then Bluetooth module and software provider Bluegiga in 2015. Silicon Labs gained intellectual property rights for Wi-Fi subsequent to that, and last year it also acquired the smart-home wireless technology Z-Wave.

These days, Silicon Labs provides wireless SoCs, modules and software stacks to enable wireless connectivity, including mesh functionality, to be built into IoT devices. Users can acquire the modules, which come with necessary protocol software and wireless certification, for fast time to market and reduced R&D costs, the company reports, or they can use Silicon Labs' wireless SoCs as a cost-effective option for high-volume applications, while preserving their investment in software and tools.

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