Connect to the IoT through NB-IoT

December 05, 2017

Riot Micro is backing the narrow-band protocol, known as NB-IoT, with its RM1000 baseband modem IC.

When it comes to connecting your IoT device to the network, there are a few options. And the folks behind those options are fairly adamant that their solution is best. Like just about every question, the real answer on which is best is, “it depends.” There are lots of factors incvolved, including cost, required bandwidth, the power levels you need to achieve, and so on.

That said, Riot Micro is backing the narrow-band protocol, known as NB-IoT, with its RM1000 baseband modem IC. The company whose goal is to enable mass cellular IoT deployment, claims that the device is the lowest power part of its kind. Note that NB-IoT is based on cellular technologies. The part also works in enhanced machine-type communication (eMTC) applications. Suitable applications for the IC include asset management, home automation, industrial, point-of-sale, smart energy, vending and automotive.

The RM1000 applies Bluetooth Low Energy and Wi-Fi architecture techniques to deliver a low-power cellular IoT solution at cost levels that are typically associated with short-range wireless techniques. By providing granular control over system resources, the architecture minimizes active power consumption in all use cases. This approach also reduces silicon area when compared to alternative signal processor-based solutions.

The RM1000 is a hardware-centric baseband controller, tightly coupled to an optimized LTE protocol stack running on a power-efficient integrated processor. The PHY layer implemented completely in hardware enables minimal Extended Discontinuous Reception (eDRX) cycle power consumption and fast wake/sleep transition times. These power savings mean that IoT modules based on the RM1000 can run longer on lower capacity batteries. Alternative solutions typically require higher frequencies, external memory, and on-chip PLLs for a high-speed clock, while software-based PHYs have longer startup and shutdown due to firmware load and processing.

The RM1000 is available now in an 8- by 8-mm 68-pad QFN package or a 3.5- by 3.2-mm WLCSP package. Reference designs are also available.