TI chip boosts range for Zigbee

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Texas Instruments will bolster the reach of Zigbee networks with a new chip it is rolling out Wednesday (July 16).

In tests with TI the CC2591 has boosted outdoor range for a Zigbee radio as much as ten-fold to 1.5 miles. The chip integrates a group of mainly passive components including a power amplifier, low-noise amplifier, balun, switches, inductors and RF-matching devices.

“Range depends on many things such as the antenna used and the environment,” said Vidar Bergli, a product marketing engineer in TI's RF business unit. Using the chip, “we've seen more than a 10x increase in range outdoors and more than 5x indoors,” he added.

The chip is designed to be used with TI's CC2430, an integrated 802.15 radio with a microcontroller and flash memory acquired that TI acquired with Chipcon. However, the device could be mated with any Zigbee radio.

The CC2591 dissipates 100mW in transmit power, is available now and costs $3.15 in thousands. TI plans a version that uses 20mW transmit power for regulations in Europe. It also plans similar integrated devices for use on 800-900 MHz ISM band networks.

“TI's CC2591 provides such an improvement in range and coverage that Paxton Access can, for the first time, offer our customers an alternative to hardwiring their building access control systems,” said Mark Thompson, development director for Paxton Access Ltd., speaking in a prepared statement from TI.

Separately, TI is working on an upgrade for its integrated Zigbee radio, optimized to run the updated Zigbee Pro software. Several other companies produce Zigbee chips including Atmel, Ember and Freescale.

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