Broadcom is adding to its portfolio of processors aimed at the Internet of things (IoT) with a family of low-power chips that support a broad array of protocols and offer features such as 40-nanometer flash memory and a common development platform.
The new ARM-based systems-on-a-chip (SoCs), introduced Dec. 8, are part of the Wireless Internet Connectivity for Embedded Devices (WICED) portfolio of technologies that are targeted at OEMs making small, connected devices for the Internet of things (IoT) as well as systems that can help connect them.
The multi-protocol support in the chips in the WICED Core ELP (enhanced low-power) will be important, given the broad range of protocols being adopted by device makers. A number of industry consortiums—such as the AllSeen Alliance, Thread Group, Open Internet Consortium and the ZigBee Alliance—are working on protocols that can be used to enable the connected devices that make up the IoT interoperable. Some of the groups, such as Thread and ZigBee, are working together.
According to Broadcom officials, the new chips support such protocols as Bluetooth, Bluetooth Smart, ZigBee, 6LoWPAN and IEEE 802.15.4. At the same time, they said Broadcom is the first to offer 40nm flash memory in a communications SoC. The new chips also include more processor speed, floating-point unit (FPU) and digital signal processing (DSP) libraries, and lower power consumption.
"In addition to enabling multi-protocol support, we support more complex IoT applications for OEMs and developers, all while consolidating our low-power solution in a small package," Brian Bedrosian, senior director of product marketing for wireless connectivity at Broadcom, said in a statement.
The chips, which are now sampling, are based on ARM's Cortex-CM4 microcontroller architecture and include up to 512KB of memory, 1MB of flash memory, high-performance radio frequency and on-chip AES 256 encryption engines.
Broadcom introduced its WICED (pronounced "wicked") platform in 2013 to give OEMs tools to build IoT and wearable devices. The company also offers a WICED software developer kit.
Broadcom is in the process of being bought by Avago Technologies for $37 billion. The companies have gotten the bulk of the regulatory approvals they need to move ahead with the deal, which they expect to complete in February 2016.