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Microchip's New ZigBee™ Protocol Platform With 2.4 GHz IEEE 802.15.4 Transceiver and Network-Analyzer Tool

Microchip Also Announces Free MiWi™ Protocol Stack for IEEE 802.15.4 Wireless Networking in Cost-Sensitive Applications With Limited Memory

Microchip releases three new offerings for IEEE 802.15.4 wireless networking. Microchip’s first RF transceiver, the MRF24J40, is a 2.4GHz IEEE 802.15.4 transceiver targeted for the ZigBee™ protocol—and proprietary wireless protocols—in RF applications requiring low power and excellent RF performance. The ZENA™ wireless network analyzer tool further enables development of ZigBee protocol systems using Microchip’s semiconductors. Finally, the MiWi™ protocol is a free, small-footprint protocol developed by Microchip for customers who do not need ZigBee protocol interoperability but want to use IEEE 802.15.4 transceivers in low-cost peer-to-peer, star and mesh networks. In fact, the MiWi protocol provides the lowest-cost fully functional network protocol for IEEE 802.15.4 transceivers.

According to In-Stat, the market for IEEE 802.15.4 wireless Personal Area Networking, via the ZigBee specification network layer and other proprietary protocols, could grow 200% by 2009—with annual shipments surpassing 150 million units in 2009. Microchip is currently addressing the needs of this market with the only zero-cost-license and royalty-free ZigBee protocol stack, which is one of the smallest in the industry and provides a source-code format that allows designers to customize their product, utilizing Microchip’s broad portfolio of compatible PIC® microcontrollers.

Alternative Protocols
Due to the fact that the ZigBee protocol has grown too large and complex for many applications, a large percentage of the market for IEEE 802.15.4 wireless Personal Area Networking is likely to use alternative, proprietary protocols, such as the MiWi protocol. Additionally, ZigBee protocol certification is costly and cumbersome for small- and medium-size companies. Microchip’s MiWi protocol provides a simpler, lower-cost solution for customers who do not need interoperability but still want to use robust IEEE 802.15.4 radios. No certification is required for MiWi protocol systems, and the protocol stack is provided under a free license, when the combination of Microchip's microcontrollers and MRF24J40 transceiver is used.

“The MiWi protocol addresses the market need for a protocol that is simpler and lower cost to implement than the ZigBee protocol. Microchip recognized this need and developed the MiWi protocol for smaller networks that can be implemented on lower-cost PIC microcontrollers,” Moorthy added.

Regardless of which protocol a design engineer selects, Microchip’s complete solution enables them to rapidly evaluate and begin developing a vast array of wirelessly networked IEEE 802.15.4 applications, including: building/home automation (security, lighting, HVAC, access); industrial (monitors, sensors, automation, control, lighting); personal healthcare (diagnostic tools, monitors); and consumer electronics (RF wireless remotes for TV/VCR/DVD/CD, toys, personal-computer peripherals).

The company's Web site address is http://www.microchip.com/.

[Reprinted with kind permission from Microchip Corporation]


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