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Microchip Debuts First LoRa Alliance Wireless Module

03 March 2015

Microchip Technology Inc. announced at Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona the RN2483, its first in a series of modules compatible with LoRa, a low-data-rate, long-range wireless networking interface intended to enable the Internet of Things (IoT) and machine-to-machine (M2M) wireless communication.

The announcement precedes the formal unveiling of the LoRa Alliance, also expected to take place at MWC. The location is appropriate given that LoRa (shorthand for "long range") is of strong interest to operators, many of which are of the belief that the cost and battery life of cellular-based IoT and M2M connectivity is prohibitive, requiring an alternative solution.

The LoRa Alliance's solution comes in the form of a Semtech-invented wireless interface, now incorporated into Microchip's RN2483 module. The modules enable the widespread seeding of millions of wireless nodes, connected via gateways, and operating in the 433/868-MHz band with a range of more than 10 miles and a battery life of greater than 10 years.

Speaking with Electronics360, Steve Caldwell, vice president of Microchip's wireless products division, said, "LoRa is interesting as it actually meets a technical need not found in other [wireless interfaces] today, especially in embedded applications needing long range at low power."

To enable the combination of long range and low power, LoRa-compatible radios rely not only upon on the inherent propagation features of sub-GHz radios—relative to those operating at 2.45 or 5 GHz—but also upon operating at lower duty cycles and relatively low data rates of between 0.3 and 50 Kbits/s. Data rates are actively managed by the server to extend battery life. Key to LoRa radios is the use of spread-spectrum techniques for optimum noise immunity, allowing it to operate at 20 dB below the noise floor.

The technical specifications of the RN2483 LoRa module. Source: Microchip Technology Inc.

The RN2483 features an input sensitivity of -148 dBm, a power output of 14 dBm and an operating voltage of 3.6 Vdc. The specifics with respect to Tx and Rx power consumption have yet to be determined.

Also included with the module is the LoRaWAN Class A protocol stack, ASCII command interface over UART, castellated SMT pads to simplify pc-board mounting, and 14 GPIOs for control, status and ADC, Microchip said. The LoRaWAN protocol lets it connect with the established and future LoRa Alliance infrastructure—including both privately managed local area networks (LANs) and telecom-operated public networks—to create what the members expect to be a low-power, wide-area network (LPWAN) with nationwide coverage.

The RN2483 is a European R&TTE Directive Assessed Radio Module and measures17.8x26.3x3 mm and is securable using AES-128 encryption.

The RN2483 is sampling now and Microchip expects it to be available for purchase by May, at what it expects will be $10.90 per unit in 1,000-unit quantities. Development boards are also expected to be available for purchase in May.

Questions or comments on this story? Contact peter.brown@globalspec.com

Related links:

www.microchip.com

IHS Semiconductors & Components

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