Silicon Labs Launches Efficient Microcontroller for Smart Meters

by | Dec 12, 2011

Silicon Laboratories has introduced an energy-efficient microcontroller (MCU) and wireless MCU for power-sensitive embedded applications such as smart metering and building automation.

The company says the C8051F96x MCU and Si102x and Si103x wireless MCU families are based on low-power technology that enables 40 percent less system current draw and up to 65 percent longer battery life than competing MCU products

The Si102x/3x wireless MCUs combine the power-saving features of the F96x MCUs with the company’s EZRadioPRO sub-GHz transceiver, into a single-chip product that the company says is ideal for battery-operated embedded systems requiring both energy efficiency and performance.

Silicon Labs says the products achieve greater efficiency in transferring energy from the battery, resulting in less energy lost as heat dissipation, which reduces system-level power consumption and extends battery life. Since MCUs use maximum power in active mode, the F96x and Si102x/3x devices incorporate features to reduce the time spent in active mode. An on-chip Dedicated Packet Processing Engine with hardware acceleration blocks enables more than a fivefold increase in RF message processing speed and allows the CPU to remain idle during transactions, thereby reducing active time and the current load on the battery, the company says. And it says that the new MCUs integrate the lowest power real-time clock in the industry, enabling 40 percent lower power in sleep mode than competing MCUs.

Pricing in 10,000-unit quantities begins at $2.41 for the F96x MCUs, $4.39 for the Si102x wireless MCUs and $3.27 for the Si103x wireless MCUs. Silicon Labs also offers a number of hardware and software development kits ranging in price from $129 to $829.

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