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TI Introduces Industry's First Frequency-Hopping Wireless UART Chipset

Easy-to-Use Solution Combats Signal Interference in Short-Range Wireless Devices

Apr 5, 2005

DALLAS (April 5, 2005) -- Texas Instruments (TI) (NYSE: TXN) today introduced a frequency-hopping spread spectrum (FHSS) wireless universal asynchronous receiver/transmitter (UART) chipset for the unlicensed United States 902- to 928-MHz Industrial, Scientific and Medical (ISM) radio frequency bands. The Dolphin chipset is a cost-effective wireless interface solution that simplifies and speeds design of a variety of consumer, industrial and commercial applications, with all the hardware, software/firmware and support designers need to integrate a low-data-rate wireless link into their systems. (Please see www.ti.com/sc05082.)

The Dolphin wireless UART chipset gives designers the benefits of a FHSS system to combat signal interference from other devices, a key issue for short-range wireless equipment due to the growing popularity of the unlicensed bands. In addition, FHSS enhances message privacy, provides better transmission range and decreases the probability of transmissions being intercepted by other devices. These benefits make the chipset ideal for a multitude of applications such as utility automated meter reading; home and industrial automation and security; heating, ventilation and air conditioning system monitoring and control; consumer electronics; personal computer (PC) peripherals; personal medical devices; and hand-held electronic toys and games.
In the past, the system designer who wanted to implement a wireless link faced the task of designing a controller for the radio chip. With the Dolphin chipset the designer gains a true data-in/RF-out and RF-in/data-out solution, including the TRF6903 single-chip, multi-band radio frequency (RF) transceiver and the DBB03 digital baseband application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC). All aspects of data management and frequency-hopping are implemented in firmware on the DBB03, which includes the PHYsical, MAC and data link layer. A simple external host microcontroller (MCU) performs all system functions related to the end application. This gives the designer flexibility to select the external host from an array of catalog MCUs such as the ultra-low-power MSP430 product line. Since the interface between the DBB03 and the host MCU is a simple UART, end applications treat the RF link as a peripheral, making it flexible, scalable and easy to implement.

Other Key Features and Benefits of the Dolphin Chipset

  • 2.2-V to 3.6-V power supply 
  • FHSS, FSK operation 
  • Simple UART host interface with programmable common baud rates provides a common interface for easy system partitioning 
  • Firmware supports both point-to-point and point-to-multipoint (broadcast) networks 
  • End applications interface to wireless link as a peripheral, shielding the application from the complex implementation details of a frequency-hopping system 
  • Fast frequency-hopping reduces power consumption and enables fast acquisition time of 70 milliseconds for 50 channels 
  • Two reference designs available: high transmit power (+23 dBm) for range up to 1 mile, and low transmit power (+7 dBm) with range up to 0.2 mile 
  • Both reference designs feature sensitivity of -101 dBm 
  • Over-the-air rates of 38.4 kbps 
  • Temperature range from -40ºC to +85ºC

Pricing, Availability and Support

The Dolphin chipset is available in volume today from TI and its authorized distributors at a price of $4.50 in 1,000-unit quantities. Two complete reference designs are available for low or high transmit power. The reference designs include Gerber files, schematics, complete bill of materials, PC-based evaluation software, protocol documents, and hardware and software user´s guides. TI has removed an additional development hurdle by pre-certifying both reference designs per U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Rules Parts 15.247 and 15.249. An evaluation module will be available in June 2005. For more information on TI´s RF products for the unlicensed ISM band, please see www.ti.com/ismrf.