Highly-efficient NB-IoT modem

April 21, 2020 //By Nick Flaherty
Qualcomm NB-IoT chipset for next-gen low-power devices
Qualcomm Technologies has launched a cellular modem chip for the Internet of Things (IoT) that it claims is the most power efficient design in the world.

Qualcomm Technologies has launched a cellular modem chip for the Internet of Things (IoT) that it claims is the most power efficient design in the world.

The Qualcomm 212 LTE IoT Modem is a single-mode NB2 (NB-IoT) chipset with a sleep current of under 1μA. The modem couples ultra-low system-level cut-off voltage with provisions for adapting power usage according to varying source power levels allowing end devices with power supply levels down to 2.2V. Power efficiency is a top concern for IoT devices that have to last for years in the field, so reducing both the sleep current and ther operating power is essential.

“The Qualcomm 212 LTE IoT Modem will help usher in a new era for a range of IoT applications around the globe, especially those requiring connectivity deep within buildings combined with low power use, like battery-powered IoT devices that need to operate for 15 years or longer in the field,” said Vieri Vanghi, vice president, product management of Qualcomm Europe. “Its ultra-low power consumption, compact form factor, and low cost will greatly benefit OEMs creating the next generation of low-power IoT devices.”

The modem chip supports single-mode 3GPP Release 14 Cat for NB2 IoT connectivity. This enables extended coverage for delay tolerant applications on RF frequency bands spanning from 700MHz to 2.1GHz for global roaming. Part of the power efficiency comes from the integration, with the modem baseband, ARM Cortex M3 application processor, memory, RF transceiver with fully integrated RF front end and power management units on a single chip under 100mm 2.

The high level of integration with few external components not only results in a low-cost Bill of Materials, but also facilitates quicker module design enabling faster commercialization time for OEMs. Qualcomm Technologies is also launching an SDK for use with the modem to support developers in running custom software on the integrated applications processor, with an expectation to offer pre-integrated support for cloud platforms such as the Microsoft Azure IoT SDK.

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