23 March 2010


RFMD features Ember ZigBee technology in new FEMs for smart energy

RF Micro Devices Inc of Greensboro, NC, USA has teamed with Ember Corp of Boston, MA, USA to introduce ZigBee front-end modules (FEMs) for smart grid applications that give utilities and consumers more control over how they monitor and save energy. ZigBee is a global wireless networking standard for monitoring and control in applications such as energy management, safety and security, lighting and appliances.

RFMD says that its new ZigBee FEM product family enables customers to bring new ZigBee products to market faster, while dramatically reducing the number of components required and the size, cost, and power consumption of smart grid FEMs.

While the firm’s newest FEMs can be used with any ZigBee application, the product family initially targets smart grid and smart energy applications such as smart meters, demand response, and home area network (HAN) devices. Beyond smart energy, they are also designed for industrial applications and any other wireless sensing and control applications that demand low power consumption, high performance and proven reliability.

The new ZigBee FEM family includes the RF6525, RF6515, and RF6535, which are optimized to operate with the Ember EM300 Series system-on-chips (SoCs) — EM351 and EM357 — as well as Ember's EM250 SoC and EM260 network co-processor.

The EM300 Series is Ember’s next-generation ZigBee chip family, and the world’s first ARM Cortex-M3 based ZigBee SoC, packing the what is claimed to be industry’s highest wireless networking performance and application code space into the lowest power-consuming chip set. The EM250 and EM260 ZigBee are the most deployed family of ZigBee semiconductors, delivering high RF performance, sensitivity and transmit power for long range and 802.11 immunity.

“RFMD and Ember are leveraging each other’s expertise to deliver high-performance, highly integrated ZigBee solutions that reduce design cycle times, lower costs, and accelerate time-to-market,” says Bob Van Buskirk, president of RFMD’s Multi-Market Products Group (MPG). “Large-scale smart energy projects are forecast to grow rapidly, with particular demand anticipated in low-power wireless IC technologies like ZigBee,” he adds.

“RFMD anticipates our collaboration with Ember will directly benefit our smart energy customers while supporting continued growth in the burgeoning smart energy marketplace,” Buskirk continues. “These diversification efforts, and RFMD’s other diversified growth initiatives currently underway, highlight the embedded value in our strategic mission to extend and leverage our leadership in RF components and compound semiconductors into multiple industries.”

“By teaming with RFMD we are further simplifying ZigBee development for OEMs and bolstering our partner ecosystem to include a global leader in high-performance RF components,” says Ember’s CEO Bob LeFort. “Fine tuned to work with the Ember platform, RFMD’s ZigBee FEMs deliver impressive size reduction and outstanding performance, thereby enabling faster, easier development of smart energy products worldwide,” he comments.

Ember’s ZigBee networking systems (chips, ZigBee protocol software and tools) simplify the complexity of integrating embedded software, networking and RF for developing low-power, wireless products in smart energy, connected home and other remote monitoring and control applications, the firm says. Since its inception, Ember has been future-proofing customers and partners like RFMD with advanced features.

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