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Figure 3 – Freescale’s Wi-Fi Tower Development Module employs Redpine Signal’s 802.11n solution, whose reference design is certified for FCC/IC/CE Freescale Semiconductor’s TWR-WIFI-RS2101MI Wi-Fi Tower Module (Figure 3) allows 802.11bgn Wi-Fi connectivity to embedded designs, and is a low‐cost evaluation, demonstration and development board that features a solution from Redpine Signals, based on Redpine’s 802.11n chipset (RS9110). The board (module) has ultra-low power operation with power save modes, includes uART and SPI interfaces, networking stack in embedded firmware to make a fully self-contained 802.11n WLAN solution for a variety of applications; and over-the-air firmware updates. The RS2101 was developed to make it usable by designers with little or no Wi-Fi or RF expertise while also removing the requirement for testing and certification. Tired of Hearing About IoT? Get Used to It The Internet of Things umbrella term may already have worn out its welcome, but it’s not going away, and in fact has just begun to emerge as something well beyond its former, far less comprehensive predecessor, called “convergence”. Intel, which projects that by 2020, more than 200 billion devices will be connected to each other and the cloud, puts it bluntly: “By 2020 any end-point appliance without integrated gateway functionality (the ability to connect to a source and catalog data over a network) will be largely useless.” To that end, the company has amassed gateway development platforms (Figure 4) for energy and industrial, transportation, and developers in general that incorporate a bewildering array of capabilities. It includes its Quark-branded SoCs designed for applications ranging from industrial systems to wearable devices, Wind River software tools, broad security resources, support for more or less every known wired or wireless communications protocol, and a huge number of other features. Other companies are following suit. Summary Embedded system design today is not for the faint of heart, and in some sectors new challenges posed by connecting everything to the Internet (and the cloud) are about to make it even more “interesting”. From the perspective of high-performance computing, defense, and other applications, embedded systems benefit from standardized form factors and internal and external communication standards that have evolved over decades, but their design is still enormously challenging. By comparison, the emerging world of ubiquitous connectivity is the “Wild West”, driven in some cases by applications that haven’t yet been explored and are thus not yet “deployed”, the mandatory requirement to incorporate state-of-the-art communications technology in tiny form factors (each one unique), and a slate of new requirements that will challenge designers for a very long time. The good news is that the demand for connectivity has created an entirely new market from the bottom to the top of the food chain, from discrete devices to SoCs, and complete systems. For further information visit the Application & Technology section of mouser.com. Figure 4 – Intel gateway platform is based on its Quark SoCs covers applications from large industrial systems to wearables. www.electronics-eetimes.com Electronic Engineering Times Europe February 2015 9


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