Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Microchip introduces LoRa system-in-package family

Steve Rogerson
December 4, 2018



To accelerate the development of LoRa-based connectivity, Microchip Technology has introduced an integrated LoRa system-in-package (SiP) family with a low-power 32bit microcontroller (MCU), sub-GHz RF LoRa transceiver and software stack.
 
The Sam R34 and R35 SiPs come with certified reference designs and proven interoperability with major LoRaWan gateway and network providers, simplifying the entire development process with hardware, software and support. The devices also provide the claimed industry's lowest power consumption in sleep modes, offering extended battery life in remote IoT nodes.
 
Most LoRa end devices remain in sleep mode for extended periods of time, only waking up occasionally to transmit small data packets. Powered by the low-power Sam L21 Arm Cortex-M0+ based MCU, the R34 devices provide sleep modes as low as 790nA to reduce power consumption and extend battery life in end applications.
 
Integrated in a 6 by 6mm package, the R34 and R35 are for a broad array of long-range, low-power IoT applications that require small form factor designs and multiple years of battery life.
 
In addition to low power consumption, the simplified development process means developers can accelerate their designs by combining their application code with the Arizona company's LoRaWan stack and quickly prototype with the ATSam R34-XPro development board (DM320111), which is supported by the Atmel Studio 7 software development kit. The development board is certified with the Federal Communications Commission, Industry Canada and Radio Equipment Directive.
 
LoRa technology is designed to enable low-power applications to communicate over longer ranges than Zigbee, wifi and Bluetooth using the LoRaWan open protocol. Suitable for a range of applications such as smart cities, agricultural monitoring and supply chain tracking, LoRaWan enables the creation of flexible IoT networks that can operate in both urban and rural environments.
 
According to the LoRa Alliance, the number of LoRaWan operators has doubled from 40 to 80 over the past 12 months, with more than 100 countries actively developing LoRaWans.
 
"The LoRa ecosystem is entering a phase of accelerated growth and, as a founding member of the LoRa Alliance, Microchip has been a strong driving force to build the success of this technology," said Steve Caldwell, vice president of Microchip's wireless business unit. "The Sam R34 continues Microchip's reputation as a one-stop shop for small, low-power devices that bring the benefits of free software, excellent customer support and dependable supply."
 
The family is supported by Microchip's LoRaWan stack, as well as a certified and proven chip-down package that enables users to accelerate the design of RF applications with reduced risk. With support for worldwide LoRaWan operation from 862 to 1020MHz, developers can use a single part variant across geographies, simplifying the design process and reducing inventory burden. The family supports classes A and C end devices as well as proprietary point-to-point connections.
 
The family is available in six device variants, providing developers the flexibility to choose a combination of memory and peripherals for their application. These include R34 devices in a 64-lead TFBGA package and R35 devices without a USB interface.
 
Microchip has teamed up with Electromaker to give away 100 AVR-IoT WG development boards. Electromaker.io is an online electronics maker community. The project-based competition is for hobbyists. Entrants will also win the chance to compete for a place at the 2019 Microchip Masters conference in Berlin.
 
The development board, designed for IoT projects, connects to the Google Cloud in 30 seconds and has a secure, hardware-based crypto authentication private key, making it easier to upload data securely. The board has built-in light and temperature sensors and is pre-configured to transfer data from these to the cloud. It also has a Mikrobus connector, which creates access to more than 500 sensors and actuators.
 
To enter the competition, participants must have a free account registered at electromaker.io and build their project using the Microchip AVR-IoT WG development board. Two runners-up will win a Curiosity PIC32MZEF development board, Snap debugger, Arduino Uno wifi, and a selection of connectors and shields.
 
The deadline for board applications is January 1, 2019, and projects must be uploaded by March 31. The winners will be announced on April 8.