Morse Micro fits IoT for its Wi-Fi HaLow

Wi-Fi HaLow promises high enough density coverage that a single access point can serve almost 8,200 devices.(Morse Micro)

With Wi-Fi HaLow emerging as a new connectivity option for IoT deployments, semiconductor firm Morse Micro announced the availability of its Wi-Fi HaLow system-on-chip and module samples to early-access partners and key customers. 

There are many different options for IoT connectivity, Wi-Fi being just one of them. As a short-range, high-bandwidth technology it likely can satisfy at least some IoT applications in consumer or business venues. However, with applications of the scope of large factories now emerging as IoT opportunities, the short range of traditional Wi-Fi becomes a weakness. Also, the traditional 2.4 Ghz Wi-Fi band is increasingly congested, not great for industrial IoT applications requiring law latency and reliability.

Enter Wi-Fi HaLow, otherwise known as the IEEE 802.ah standard, approved five years ago to operate in unlicensed bands below 1 GHz and in narrow frequency slices. Wi-Fi HaLow may not be as well known as widespread flavors of Wi-Fi used by consumers or get as much buzz as the latest standards, but it seems like a solid match for business and industrial IoT applications requiring high-density coverage and the ability for signal penetration through obstacles; low power and long battery life in connected devices; and flexibility in range and bandwidth for applications. 

A single Wi-Fi HaLow access point can serve up to almost 8,200 connected stations, making it ideal for connecting the thousands of sensors that could be deployed in smart factory or automated building environments, said Morse Micro COO Vahid Manian, in an interview with Fierce Electronics. 

Meanwhile, its range is up to around 1 km, much greater than standard Wi-Fi (with which it can co-exist), and it offers bandwidth of 140 Kbps at its longest range, enough for many IoT monitoring applications, up to a robust 43.3 Mbps in short-distance deployments, where it could connect video cameras or help control machine motors.

“We’re talking about something that provides 10x the range of connectivity, 100x the area and 1000x the volume of traditional Wi-Fi solutions,” he added.

The technology also occupies a space in which it can provide longer reach than other low-power options like LoRaWAN and Zigbee, and better power efficiency and lower installation cost than long-range options like Sigfox or NB-IoT, Manian said.

Morse Micro is demonstrating its new SoCs and accompanying evaluation kits during the ISC West event next week. Along with sample availability this month, the company said that depending on the design cycle timing of its early-access customers, its chips could be in product by the fourth quarter this year.

Among the new SoCs, the MM6104 SoC supports 1, 2 and 4 MHz channel bandwidth. The higher performance MM6108 SoC supports 1, 2, 4 and 8 MHz bandwidth and delivers more throughput to support streaming HD video. 

A list of key features follows:

Morse Micro MM6108 and MM6104 SoCs Key Features

  • IEEE 802.11ah Wi-Fi HaLow transceiver for low-power, long-reach IoT applications
  • Radio supporting worldwide sub-1 GHz frequency bands
  • On-chip power amplifier with support for external FEM option
  • Power management unit (PMU) supporting ultra-low-power operation modes
  • WPA3 Security
  • SDIO 2.0 and SPI host interface options
  • GPIO/UART/I2C/PWM peripheral options
  • 6 mm x 6 mm QFN48 package

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