Silicon Labs Gecko MCU Platforms Focusing on IoT Security and Energy

Posted 1/5/2016 5:05:24 PM by RICHARD HARRIS, Executive Editor

Silicon Labs Gecko MCU Platforms Focusing on IoT Security and Energy
Silicon Labs has introduced two new EFM32 Gecko microcontroller (MCU) platforms that focus on security and energy management for IoT-connected devices. The new Jade Gecko and Pearl Gecko MCUs combine a hardware cryptography engine, low-energy modes, an on-chip dc-dc converter and scalable memory options. 

The EFM32 Jade and Pearl Gecko MCUs microcontrollers target energy-sensitive and battery-powered devices including wearable health and fitness trackers, smart door locks, point-of-sale devices, security sensors and other IoT node applications.

The new MCUs feature a hardware cryptography engine providing autonomous encryption and decryption for Internet security protocols such as TLS/SSL with minimal CPU intervention all without sacrificing battery life. The on-chip crypto-accelerator supports advanced algorithms such as AES with 128- or 256-bit keys, elliptical curve cryptography (ECC), SHA-1 and SHA-224/256. Hardware cryptography enables helps developers to meet IoT security requirements beyond software-only techniques.

The microcontrollers are based on ARM Cortex-M3 and M4 cores and feature an enhanced peripheral reflex system (PRS) that lets low-power peripherals operate autonomously while the MCU core sleeps, allowing connected devices to sleep longer which extends battery life. Energy-saving low active-mode current (63 µA/MHz) enables computationally intensive tasks to execute faster and the low sleep-mode current (1.4 µA down to 30 nA) and ultra-fast wake-up/sleep transitions also minimize energy consumption.

The Jade and Pearl Gecko MCUs integrate a high-efficiency dc-dc buck converter. With a total current capacity of 200 mA, the on-chip converter can provide a power rail for other system components in addition to powering the MCU. This power management option can eliminate the need for an external dc-dc converter.

Other Jade Gecko and Pearl Gecko MCU highlights:

- Choice of 32-bit ARM Cortex-M3 and M4 cores scaling up to 40 MHz

- On-chip hardware encryption/decryption accelerator supporting random number generator, AES, ECC and SHA technologies

- Flexible energy management system with a wide range of low-energy modes

- 12-channel peripheral reflex system (PRS) supporting autonomous interaction between peripherals down to deep sleep mode, as well as configurable logic functions

- 12-bit, 1 Msps analog-to-digital converter (ADC) capable of sampling and performing autonomous comparisons down to stop mode

- Integrated dc-dc buck converter providing a power rail for other system components
Scalable memory options (up to 256 kB flash with 32 kB RAM)

- Independent I/O rail supporting 1.8V to 5V components

- Software-compatible with existing portfolio of 240+ EFM32 Gecko MCUs

IoT developers can use Silicon Labs’ Simplicity Studio development platform to power the EFM32 Jade and Pearl Gecko and complete IoT projects from initial concept to final product in a unified software environment. Simplicity Studio includes an Eclipse-based integrated development environment (IDE), graphical configuration tools, energy profiling tools, wireless network analysis tools, demos, software examples, documentation, technical support and community forums.

Engineering samples of EFM32JG Jade Gecko and EFM32PG Pearl Gecko MCUs are available now in 5 mm x 5 mm QFN32 and 7 mm x 7 mm QFN48 packages. Production quantities are planned for the second quarter of 2016. Jade Gecko pricing begins at $1.24 (USD) in 10,000-unit quantities, and Pearl Gecko 10K pricing begins at $1.65 (USD). The SLSTK3401A EFM32PG Pearl Gecko Starter Kit, priced at $29.99 (USD MSRP) allows developers to jumpstart evaluation and development of Gecko-based applications. 

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About the author: RICHARD HARRIS, Executive Editor

As the Publisher and Editor for App Developer Magazine, Richard has several industry recognitions and endorsements from tech companies such as Microsoft, Apple and Google for accomplishments in the mobile market. He was part of the early Google AFMA program, and also involved in the foundation of Google TV. He has been developing for mobile since 2003 and serves as CEO of Moonbeam Development, a mobile app company with 200 published titles in various markets throughout the world. Richard is also the founder of LunarAds, a mobile cross-promotion and self-serv mediation network for developers. He has been a featured presenter at trade-shows and conferences, and stays active with new projects relating to mobile development.

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