A Reference for Your Cellular IoT Designs
Ralph Sprang posted on March 12, 2018 |

Internet of Things (IoT) developers needing a software-defined radio (SDR) module to implement a cellular modem can now mitigate risk and speed time to market. Chip maker Riot Micro and software provider Amarisoft collaborated to provide a reference design for a cellular modem module, which they recently demonstrated at Mobile World Congress. This module integrates a Riot Micro modem chip set with the AMARI LTE 100 software suite to provide a complete network solution targeting IoT and machine-to-machine communication applications.

Engineers can “drop in” the provided reference design or use it as a starting point to design their own system. The 10-year battery life of this low-power design makes it ideal for asset tracking, smart city, smart home, metering and remote sensing applications where frequent battery replacement is impractical or impossible.

(Image courtesy of Riot Micro.)
(Image courtesy of Riot Micro.)
The RM1000 SoC chip provides modem and radio capability. (Image courtesy of Riot Micro.)
The RM1000 SoC chip provides modem and radio capability. (Image courtesy of Riot Micro.)

The reference design is based on the Riot Micro RM1000 narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT) baseband modem system-on-chip (SoC). This SoC solution includes an ARM Cortex processor, digital baseband radio for cellular IoT networks, interfaces to common radio frequency integrated circuits (RFIC), a flash memory interface and a broad set of peripherals including general purpose I/O, universal asynchronous receiver transmitters (UARTs) and a Joint Test Action Group (JTAG) interface.  Static random access memory (SRAM) is integrated on the SoC along with a full software stack that includes an AT command stack and LTE L2/L3, and TCP, IP and UDP support. The chip set will operate reliably in most environments thanks to the minus 40 °C to 85 °C industrial operating temperature range.

The Amarisoft software suite speeds system development by providing a working basic software platform for networking and communication. The software suite enables end-to-end communication for up to 1,000 user devices and includes support for eNodeB (eNB), Electronic Product Code (EPC), evolved Multimedia Broadcast and Multicast Service (eMBMS) gateway and IP Multimedia System (IMS) test server. The AMARI software components are 3GPP release 13 compliant and can be installed and configured through JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) configuration files.

Developers can quickly prototype a system and focus on their application rather than struggle with radio and interface development, since most of that development is already done in this reference design. For those looking to start a new IoT project—or enhance an existing product—this module is worth a close look.

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