Imagination aims WiFi6 IP at low power IoT

June 05, 2020 //By Nick Flaherty
The iEW400 design from Imagination Technologies uses of the power efficiency of the 802.11ax standard for battery-powered WiFi6 chips in the Internet of Things, wearables and Industry 4.0.
The iEW400 design from Imagination Technologies uses of the power efficiency of the 802.11ax standard for battery-powered WiFi6 chips in the Internet of Things, wearables and Industry 4.0.

New technologies added to WiFi6 to boost data rates and reliability also lend themselves to low power operation, and Imaginations Ensigma division in Chepstow has used this for a full chip design in a 40nm process that has a long battery life in the IoT.

WiFi is not traditionally considered for IoT and industrial applications as a result of the power consumption, but over 4bn WiFI devices are predicted to ship in 2021, giving a huge installed base to connect to.

The iEW400 full chip WiFI6 design adds 20/40MHz operation for low-data-rate applications to conserve battery power, as well as Target Wake Time (TWT) that extends deep-sleep periods, improving current consumption and extending battery life. It uses orthogonal frequency-division multiple access (OFDMA) so that the bandwidth can be segmented, allowing multiple devices to receive data in the same time frame. This increases data transmission efficiency and reduces power consumption for network applications.

New features such as Basic Service Set (BSS) Colouring in WiFi6 increases robustness in dense environments, enabling improved data throughput in areas where there are multiple access points and many clients, such as large crowds. With BSS Colouring , each data from each access point is prescribed a “colour”, so clients can identify which one is transmitting, resulting in improved network performance.

When signal robustness is paramount, iEW400 also supports a dual-carrier mode. Dual subcarrier modulation (DCM) is where the same information is modulated on a pair of sub-carriers, which can ensure data gets through even in noisy environment such as the factory floor.

“In recent years Wi-Fi has seen strong growth for battery-powered applications, driven by increased adoption of low-power IEEE 802.11n devices. IEEE 802.11ax enables these products to enjoy improved power consumption and efficiency, along with enhanced performance and robustness,” said Richard Edgar, Senior Director of Product Management at Imagination. “This makes low-power Wi-Fi 6 devices the next step in the evolution of Wi-Fi in


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