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IoT applications that use Wi-Fi and the arrival of a development kit equipped with microcontrollers that promote development

Mr. Seiji Suetake Mr. Seiji Suetake

 All things connecting to the Internet… The so-called “Age of IoT (Internet of Things)” is coming in earnest. In addition to computers and smartphones, internet connection is now possible with a variety of applications such as automobiles, TVs, lighting equipment, air conditioners, refrigerators, factory manufacturing equipment, surveillance cameras, and medical devices.

 There are two essential things to realize IoT applications such as these. A microcontroller and wireless communication function. The microcontroller executes signal processing arithmetic processing, and the wireless communication function takes charge of connection with the internet. What matters here is selecting the optimal microcontroller and wireless communication function. Because requirements differ depending on the application, it is necessary to select the microcontroller and wireless communication function after firmly grasping the characteristics of the application.

 Cypress Semiconductor has already commercialized the “PSoC® 6 BLE Pioneer Kit”, a development kit for IoT applications that supports Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). It is aimed at IoT applications that require very low power consumption such as smart watches, health trackers, activity meters, and sensor terminals. Cypress Semiconductor also launched a new development kit for IoT applications that supports wireless LAN (Wi-Fi), called “PSoC 6 Wifi-BT Pioneer Kit”. In this article we asked Mr. Seiji Suetake, project manager in the Market Division of the Microcomputer Division of Cypress Semiconductor, about the reasons for launching a new development, the target audience, and the performance and features of the product. (Interviewer: Katsumi Yamashita = Technical Journalist)

What sort of applications is Cypress targeting with the “PSoC 6 WiFi-BT Pioneer Kit”?

「PSoC 6 WiFi-BT Pioneer Kit」

Figure 1: “PSoC 6 WiFi-BT Pioneer Kit”
A board (Pioneer Board) equipped with a microcontroller and a wireless communication module, an optional board (shield) that can be connected, and USB cable etc. included.

Suetake: The applications targeted are IoT applications (Figure 1). Of course, with IoT applications, there are many cases where Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) is used. However, on the other hand, there are many cases where a wireless LAN (Wi-Fi) is used. For example, smart home compatible devices and home gateways. Furthermore, recently, there are major products equipped with Wi-Fi, and products that are “IoT compatible” have been launched. For example, in the case of an air conditioner, it is possible to operate it using a smartphone while out of the home allowing for you to leave it at a comfortable temperature for when returning home. The kit released this time is ideal for developing such IoT applications.

How do I use BLE and Wi-Fi accordingly?

Suetake: The advantages of Wi-Fi may include, for example, “the high ease of connection” and “long communication range”. The high data transmission rate is not very important for applications such as the aforementioned smart home devices, home gateways, and major appliances. This is because we don’t send pictures or videos. Rather, it’s used similarly to a switch. Which is why, “it is important that it connects”.

 Moreover, all of the IoT applications mentioned above are constantly supplied with power from a commercial power source. Therefore, low power consumption is also not that important. With applications like these, you would choose Wi-Fi instead of BLE.

“PSoC 62 Line” used for the microcontroller

What is the configuration of the PSoC 6 WiFi-BT Pioneer Kit?

Microcontroller “PSoC 6” with low power consumption and high computer performance

Figure 2: Microcontroller “PSoC 6” with low power consumption and high computer performance

Internal configuration of “PSoC 62 Line”

Figure 3: Internal configuration of “PSoC 62 Line”
Dual-core configuration with “Arm® Cortex®-M4” operating at 150MHz and “Arm Cortex-M0+” operating at 100MHz. The flash memory capacity is 1M byte.

Suetake: The microcontroller is a “PSoC6” with low-power consumption but high computing performance (Figure 2). PSoC 6 includes the product lines “PSoC 63 line”, which integrates wireless communication functions compatible with BLE, and the product line “PSoC 62 line” which is not installed but this kit uses the latter PSoC 62 line (Figure 3). The part number of the microcontroller is “CY8C6247”. This is combined with the with a 2.4GHz wireless communication module that supports Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. The wireless communication module used is Murata Manufacturing’s “LBEE5KL1DX”. This module is equipped with our “CYW4343W” which is the original IEEE802.11b/g/n compatible Wi-Fi chip.

What kind of microcontroller is the PSoC 62 line?

Suetake: The PSoC 63 line and PSoC 62 line have the difference in whether they integrate BLE functions or not, but other basic configurations are almost the same. In other words, it is a dual-core configuration with “Arm Cortex-M4” operating at 150MHz and “Arm Cortex-M0+” operating at 100MHz, and a microcontroller that integrates flash memory, SRAM, programmable analog functions, and input/output interface in one chip.

 In the PSoC 62 line, there are multiple products due to differences in flash memory and SRAM capacity and integrated peripheral functions. One of them is the aforementioned CY8C6247. It has integrated functions such as 1MB flash memory, 288KB SRAM, Universal Digital Block (UDB), USB for full speed, GPIO, op amp, AD converter, and capacitance type touch sensor “CapSense®”.

Not integrating the BLE function in the microcontroller means that it uses the BLE function installed in the external wireless communication module.

Suetake: That’s right. Because the PSoC 62 line does not have the BLE function, it uses the BLE function of the wireless communication module.

How do you connect the external wireless communication module and the microcontroller?

Suetake: The CY8C6247 installed here does not have an SDHC compatible interface. Therefore, it connects using a UDB.

Display shield included

Can you use both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth with this kit?

Suetake: That’s right. It is also possible to receive a wireless signal compatible with BLE. For applications like home gateways, the combination of Wi-Fi and BLE may be the best solution. It is possible to acquire various sensor information within a household through BLE and collect user operational information and various information on the internet through Wi-Fi.

 In addition to this, it also provides useful functions for building IoT applications such as home gateways. A 2.8-inch TFT liquid crystal panel was included as a shield (optional board). Because this kit is compatible with the single-board microcontroller “Arduino”, shields that can be used with Arduino can be used as is. Furthermore, the German company, Segger Microcontroller’s display driver is included, allowing you to easily add display capabilities.

 The number of pixels of the TFT liquid crystal panel is 320×240. It can be used to display the home gateway status. It’s the perfect kit for users who are thinking, “I’d like to try creating a home gateway”.

What sort of users do you want using this kit?

Suetake: Designers and engineers who are knowledgeable in Wi-Fi but have never used PSoC 6. We want people like that to buy it and experience that they can realize all sorts of applications by using Wi-Fi and CapSense and various shields.

What development tools do you have?

Suetake: For the development of PSoC 6, you can use “PSoC Creator”, our integrated development environment (IDE). For development regarding the wireless communication module, we have the software development kit (SDK” “WICED® (Wireless Internet Connectivity for Embedded Devices)”.

Plans for expanding 2M flash products

Tell us about future product development of the PSoC 6 WiFi-BT Pioneer Kit.

“PSoC6” Product Portfolio

Figure 4: “PSoC6” Product Portfolio
Currently in the PSoC 62 line, Cypress plans to expand the “CY8C6248”, which has increased flash memory capacity to 2M bytes.

Suetake: Currently, in the PSoC 62 line, we are developing the “CY8C6248” with flash memory capacity increased to 2M bytes (Figure 4). With 2M bytes, it is enough to store user-developed programs and data in many applications, making it possible to further enhance usability. In addition, we plan to install two channels of SDHC compatible interface. It will be possible to connect with the wireless communication module using this. It will save you the trouble of connecting using a UDB.

With the PSoC 63 line, the BLE function is integrated into one chip. Is there a possibility of commercializing PSoC6 with integrated Wi-Fi function?

Suetake: There is no doubt that it will eventually lead to a one-chip solution. However, at present, manufacturing technology has not caught up yet. The Wi-Fi compatible wireless communication chip is manufactured with a 28nm process, but the manufacturing technology for the microcontroller with built-in flash memory (PSoC 6) is a 40nm process. In the future, if we can further develop the manufacturing process technology, if each function can be manufactured in a more miniaturized process, a one-chip solution will become more realistic.

MCU Solution Development Board for IoT Application Development

PSoC 6 BLE Pioneer Kit “CY8CKIT-062-WIFI-BT”

The PSoC 6 BLE Pioneer Kit which was also introduced in this manufacturer’s interview is currently available. The PSoC 6 WiFi-BT Pioneer Kit (CY8CKIT-062-WiFi-BT) is a low-cost hardware platform that allows you to design and debug the PSoC 62 MCU and Murata LBEE5KL1DX module (CYW4343W WiFi + Bluetooth combo chip). In addition, a TFT shield is also included.