Enhanced MCU development tools speed wireless design

17th September 2021
Mick Elliott

In a move which could ease the design of competitively priced and power-efficient wireless equipment for applications like smart buildings, smart industry, and smart infrastructure, STMicroelectronics has introduced new development tools and software for STM32WB wireless microcontrollers (MCUs).

ST’s highly integrated STM32WB contains a 2.4GHz radio and Arm Cortex-M4 and Cortex-M0+MCU on the same chip, which eliminates numerous RF-circuit design challenges that can add time and uncertainty to a project.

Just a small number of external components are needed, such as an antenna chosen for the application, to complete the hardware design.

The MCU includes numerous peripherals, including a 12-bit analogue-digital converter (ADC), digital interfaces, and a crystal-less USB 2.0 Full Speed interface in selected models. Protocols supported are Bluetooth LE 5.2, Zigbee, OpenThread and proprietary protocols, including combinations of such protocols with concurrent modes.

Strengthening support for wireless design, the STM32WB ecosystem provides all the necessary embedded software bricks and tools to get users started easily with their applications.

The STM32CubeWB MCU package is loaded with many examples and brings a full set of peripheral drivers (HAL and LL), all the necessary radio stacks including Bluetooth 5.2, Zigbee 3.0, OpenThread v1.1 and 802.15.4 MAC for proprietary protocols, as well as example implementations of several concurrency models (static and/or dynamic) for these stacks.

Software tools like STM32CubeMX and STM32CubeIDE offer direct support of the radio stacks in their GUI for easy access and configuration.

Users can easily select and configure profiles and clusters for popular standards and benefit from ready-to-use examples.

In addition, extra controls for the power estimation tool contained in the STM32CubeMX configurator help calculate the RF-subsystem contribution to overall power consumption budget.

Users can setup various scenarios for an accurate assessment of battery runtime.

Even more new features include enhancement of the STM32Cube programmer for optimised programming of the STM32WB’s dual-core architecture, which ensures real-time application performance by utilising a Cortex-M0+ processor to control the radio alongside the main Cortex-M4 core.

With the STM32CubeMonitor-RF evaluation tool, the ecosystem supports the development process through to setting up the radio efficiently in the customer’s environment and testing its performance.

Supporting BluetoothLE and generic 802.15.4 radio technologies, STM32CubeMonitor-RF performs transmission/reception tests and RF measurements and assists writing test scripts and testing protocol and command sequences. The latest version introduces a sniffer capability for 802.15.4 protocols to ease development of products for mesh networks.

All tools and radio protocol stacks within the STM32CubeWB wireless ecosystem are appropriately certified and provided free of charge, along with documentation detailing the accompanying Bluetooth 5.2 and 802.15.4 certification items, enabling customers to secure applicable radio-product approvals quickly and cost-effectively.

The STM32WB wireless microcontrollers ecosystem also contains a set of evaluation boards for STM32WB wireless microcontrollers to help jump-start wireless product development. The P- NUCLEO-WB55 pack with Nucleo-64 board and USB dongle, NUCLEO-WB55RG and NUCLEO-WB15CC Nucleo-64 boards and STM32WB5MM-DK Discovery kit offer various options to get started immediately targeting a wide range of wireless applications.

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