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Cypress Blends WICED, 28nm ULP

October 3, 2017

Author: Loyd Case

The new CYW43012 wireless-combo chip brings together Cypress Semiconductor’s Bluetooth expertise from its PSoC wireless-MCU line and the WICED (“wicked”) Wi-Fi technology it acquired from Broadcom last year. The design features two ARM Cortex-M CPUs and is compatible with the company’s WICED software tool kit. Built in a 28nm ULP (ultralow power) process, it targets wireless headphones and speakers requiring maximum battery life. In addition, it implements a subset of 802.11ac—the company calls it “802.11ac friendly.” The CYW43012 is sampling now, with full production slated for late 4Q17.

The Cortex-M3 takes care of Wi-Fi protocols. It has its own SRAM and ROM (not shown in the figure) to store the Wi-Fi firmware, which supports both IPv4 and IPv6. The CYW43012 fully enables all Wi-Fi protocols up to 802.11n; its “802.11ac friendly” label means it lacks full compliance with the 802.11ac standard because it only works with 20MHz channels and up to QAM-256 in the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands (from 30 available Wi-Fi channels). The chip also lacks MIMO capability and thus is limited to 78Mbps, about the same speed as 802.11n. It does support beam forming, which extends range and signal integrity. The Wi-Fi section can interoperate with all 802.11ac routers in either band.

The MCU implements dual-mode Bluetooth 5 including “classic” mode, which now offers extended-range capability and forward error correction. It handles the new low-energy 2Mbps Bluetooth 5 data rate as well. The Bluetooth section enables the basic rate and the enhanced data rate when running in standard Bluetooth 5 mode. Cypress’s WICED SDK fully supports the chip for Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) operation and also works with Apple Airplay. 

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