NXP Makes Moves in IoT, Wearable 5G Markets

With the Freescale deal complete, NXP announces a tiny ARM-based chip, wearable platforms and efforts to accelerate innovation around 5G networks.

Internet of things

NXP Semiconductors this week unveiled the first new silicon product since closing its $12 billion acquisition of Freescale late last year when officials introduced a tiny ARM-based chip aimed at the Internet of things and other applications.

At the Embedded World 2016 show, NXP officials announced the QorIQ LS1012A chip, which they said will offer enterprise-class performance and security in a 9.6mm-by-9.6mm package that consumes about 1 watt of power. Company officials see a wide range of uses for the system-on-a-chip (SoC), from Internet of things (IoT) devices and gateways, high-performance portable storage uses that include mobile hard disk drive (HDD), and mobile storage for rechargeable devices like cameras and tablets.

"This unique blend of capabilities unleashes embedded systems designers and developers to imagine and create radically innovative end-products across a broad spectrum of high-growth markets," Tareq Bustami, senior vice president and general manager of NXP's digital networking business, said in a statement.

The QorIQ LS1012A was one in a series of announcements the company made this week at both Embedded World and Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2016 that focused on the IoT, wearable devices and 5G networking, among other areas. Like the new SoC, new reference platforms for wearables are based on technology acquired from Freescale, in particular Kinetis microcontrollers (MCUs).

When the deal for Freescale closed in December 2015, officials with NXP during a conference call talked about the complementary nature of the acquisition and how bringing Freescale into the fold will help expand NXP's capabilities in such areas as the IoT and connected cars.

"The requirement for constant connectivity all the time and secure connectivity is critical," Steve Owen, executive vice president of sales and marketing at NXP, said at the time.

According to NXP officials, the LS1012A also is small enough to be used in object-based storage appliances that rely on an intelligent HDD that is directly connected to the Ethernet network. The SoC can be integrated into the PCB of the HDD, they said.

The chip, which will be available in April, is based on ARM's 64-bit Cortex-A53 core combined with a low-power, 2G-bps packet crupto accelerator, both of which are integrated with high-speed peripherals in a package that is normally the size of MCUs. It offers dual 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet, PCIe, SATA3 and USB 3.0 with integrated PHY.

Also at Embedded World, NXP officials announced partnerships with two companies that are leveraging the Kinetis MCUs to develop platforms that device developers can use to build wearable devices, from fitness to industrial devices.

"NXP is able to leverage its broad portfolio of products to offer comprehensive, form-factor reference designs for the wearables market, simplifying customer design and accelerating customer time to market," Geoff Lees, general manager and senior vice president of the microcontroller business line at NXP, said in a statement. "These new reference platforms target OEMs, as well as the larger maker community by offering versatility for designs that need to be smart, low-power, and expandable."

NXP is working with MikroElektronika in developing the Hexiwear reference platform for wearables and edge-node IoT devices. The platform includes such NXP products as Kinetis K6x MCU based on ARM's Cortex-M4 core, Kinetis KW40Z multimode radio SoC, three NXP sensors and an NXP single-cell battery charger IC. It includes open-source application software, drives and cloud connectivity, and supports Google's Android and Apple's iOS mobile operating systems. It also uses the Kinetis software development kit and Kinetis Design Studio IDE. It will be in full production in April and start at $49.

The Hexiwear platform also can be downloaded from Kinetis Designs, an online portal.