Silicon Labs’ latest wireless SoCs come with energy harvesting-ready capabilities

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Silicon Labs has announced the launch of the xG22E family of Wireless SoCs, the company’s first-ever family of devices that have been designed to operate within the ultra-low power envelope required for battery-free, energy harvesting applications.

Credit: Silicon Labs

Consisting of the BG22E, MG22E, and FG22E these are Silicon Labs' most energy efficient SoCs to date. All three SoCs have been developed to enable IoT device makers to build high-performance, Bluetooth Low Energy (LE), 802.15.4-based, or Sub-Ghz wireless devices for battery-optimised and battery-free devices that can harvest energy from external sources in their environments.

In addition, and to help device manufacturers build a complete energy harvesting solution, Silicon Labs is partnering with e-peas, a provider of Power Managed Integrated Circuits (PMICs) designed for energy harvesting.

Through this partnership, Silicon Labs and e-peas have co-developed two energy harvesting shields for Silicon Labs' xG22E Explorer Kit, which allows developers to customise the peripherals and debugging options that best match their application and get highly accurate measurements to better build their applications and devices with the energy harvesting shields.

Each energy harvesting shield is tuned and optimised for different energy sources and energy storage technologies. They are custom fit to slot onto the Explorer Kit. Notably, one of the shields uses e-peas' latest AEM13920 dual-harvester, which allows it to pull energy simultaneously from two distinct energy sources, like indoor or outdoor light, thermal gradients, and electromagnetic waves without sacrificing on energy conversion efficiency.

A second co-developed shield is based on e-peas’ AEM00300 shield and is dedicated to harvesting power from random pulsed energy sources.

"As the market for energy harvesting and low-power solutions grows, Silicon Labs remains dedicated to enhancing our wireless MCU and radio stack capabilities to advance the development of battery-free IoT solutions," said Ross Sabolcik, Senior Vice President for the Industrial and Commercial Business Unit at Silicon Labs. “Our efforts to prioritise energy efficiency and increase device longevity underscore our commitment to fostering a more sustainable IoT ecosystem."

The evolution and widespread deployment of the Internet of Things (IoT) faces significant challenges that are related to powering low-complexity, small-form-factor devices. Ambient IoT looks to address these challenges by introducing a class of connected devices primarily powered through energy harvesting from ambient sources like radio waves, light, motion, and heat.

The xG22E family comes equipped with several features designed to minimise energy use:

  • Ultra-fast, low-energy cold start for applications starting from a zero-energy state to transmit packets and then rapidly return to sleep. An xG22E device wakes up in only eight milliseconds and uses only 150 micro-Joules, or roughly 0.003% of the energy needed to power a 60-watt equivalent LED lightbulb for one second.
  • Energy conserving deep sleep swift wake-up reduces wake-up energy by 78% compared to other Silicon Labs devices.
  • Power-efficient energy mode transition to smoothly transition in and out of energy modes by mitigating current spikes or inrush, which can harm energy storage capacity.
  • Multiple deep sleep wake-up options, such as RFSense, GPIO, and RTC wake-up sources from the deepest EM4 sleep mode, are ideal for extended storage.