First gen Wi-Fi MCUs to enhance wireless security

28th March 2022
Beatrice O'Flaherty

GigaDevice, a semiconductor device supplier in the industry, officially launched the latest member of its Arm Cortex-M33 core MCU portfolio, the GD32W515 series of Wi-Fi microcontrollers.

This brand new MCU family has leading baseband and RF performance, built-in TrustZone architecture to create a reliable hardware execution environment for secure data storage, and continues the perfect compatibility of software and hardware in the GD32 MCU family. The GD32W515 series products provide wireless connectivity development options for various application needs such as smart home, industrial IoT, and consumer electronics. With the enhanced processing capabilities and rich integration features, such designs are greatly simplified. Samples are now available and will be officially mass-produced in December.

Leading RF Performance and Rich Integrated Resources

The GD32W515 series of MCUs continue to use the latest Arm Cortex-M33 core, integrated with a 2.4GHz single-stream IEEE802.11b/g/n MAC/Baseband/RF radio frequency module on-chip. The Cortex-M33 core is based on the new Armv8-M instruction set architecture and supports the DSP instruction extension and single-precision floating-point arithmetic unit (FPU). The included optional TrustZone hardware security mechanism supports independent storage access space, enhancing the security and flexibility of such applications.

The wireless GD32W515 series has a maximum transmit power of 21 dBm, a signal receiving sensitivity of -97.6 dBm, and a total link budget of 118.6 dBm to provide leading class baseband and radio frequency performance. It also has a superior anti-interference ability. The adjacent channel rejection (ACR) value is as high as 48dB, which can effectively prevent strong signal interference and improve the stability of signal reception. This series of MCU supports high transmission rates with Iperf throughput of up to 50Mbps, and in laboratory test conditions, the throughput reached up to 80Mbps. The radiofrequency (RF) module is fully integrated on-chip to simplify designs, effectively reducing the number of external components and thus saving BOM costs.

The GD32W515 series MCU provides a maximum frequency of 180MHz, up to 2048KB of on-chip Flash, 448KB of SRAM, and supports up to 32MB of external Flash. The power supply voltage is 1.6-3.6V, while the I/O ports can withstand 5V voltage levels. The standard industrial temperature range of –40 to +85°C is supported as well.

The chip has built-in rich peripheral resources including one 12-bit ADC, four general-purpose 16-bit timers, two general-purpose 32-bit timers, one basic timer, one PWM advanced timer, and a series of communication interfaces: up to two SPIs, one SDIO, two I2Cs, three USARTs, one I2S, USB2.0 FS, and Wi-Fi wireless interface. Other peripherals include TrustZone control unit (TZPCU), digital camera interface (DCI), touch sensing interface (TSI), Quad SPI Flash Interface (QSPI), and a new High-performance Digital Filter (HPDF). It can be used for external Σ-Δ modulation to achieve high-precision audio signal processing.

GD32W515 Series MCU Portfolio

Integrated TrustZone Architecture Provides a Safe and Trusted Solution

Benefiting from the system isolation features provided by the TrustZone hardware security architecture, the new MCU can support the secure startup from the secure area and provide services such as secure storage, initialisation authentication, and security logging at the application level. It enhances the protection of confidential code and data, core processes, and critical peripheral equipment. It also supports the brand-new security features stipulated by the Wi-Fi protocol, such as WPA3 and the management frame protection function. The confidentiality and security of the communication process in the end device are no longer compromised.

The GD32W515 series of MCUs have officially passed the PSA Level 1, PSA Functional API certification of the Arm platform security architecture to provide higher security. It has also passed Wi-Fi certification authorised by the Wi-Fi Alliance (WFA) and RF FCC/CE compliance certification. It has excellent compatibility with wireless routers (APs) from many manufacturers and can quickly establish connections.

A Wireless AIoT Development and Application Ecosystem within Reach

The GD32W515 series of MCUs is supported by a complete set of development kits. In addition to the documentation and firmware library, the software development kit (SDK), which includes hardware drivers, software protocol stacks, cloud connections, and other functions dedicated to Wi-Fi modules, is also available. Various development environments and tools such as Keil MDK, IAR EWARM, and GCC are fully supported. Embedded operating systems such as FreeRTOS, µCOS, RT-Thread, and AliOS Things have been ported, and available Wi-Fi reference design solutions can be provided as well.

Mr. Eric Jin, Product Marketing Director of GigaDevice, said: “We will expand a wider variety of wireless MCU product portfolios to provide innovative shortcuts for the endless development needs in the AIoT era. With the excellent processing performance and accelerator of the Cortex-M33 core, the new Wi-Fi MCU can support edge computing such as local voice recognition, keyword wake-up, and artificial intelligence algorithms such as TinyML. The TrustZone security architecture can also greatly improve the information security design of IoT devices, escorting users' privacy and security in the era of big data with Internet of Everything.”

Dedicated development boards for the GD32W515 series have been launched simultaneously. The GD32W515P-EVAL full-featured evaluation board, which is based on the QFN56 package, supports development, debugging, and complete function demonstration. The GD32W515T-START entry-level kit, which is based on the QFN36 package, can be used to evaluate Wi-Fi-related development. For further information, please contact your local GigaDevice Sales Office or authorised representative.

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