In today's ever-evolving technological landscape, wireless connectivity has become an integral part of our lives. Whether it's in the smart home, industrial automation, or healthcare, wireless communication plays a crucial role in connecting devices and enabling the Internet of Things (IoT). This means wireless connectivity using a Low Power Radio (LPR) has become a prerequisite for most hardware designs today, traditionally these have not been easy to implement with this part of the design often left to the “RF” expert within the design department. Thankfully over the years implementing a LPR has become much easier as module solutions became available reducing the time to market vs. building a chip down solution. The next evolution of wireless connectivity is the integration of the radio into the microcontroller (MCU) to further reduce board space and time to market.
Alvin Ferlance, Field Application Engineer for Wireless and Modules at Anglia, introduces two series of Wireless MCUs from STMicroelectronics which offer RF designers a fully featured multiprotocol radio solution integrated with a powerful MCU.
STM32 Wireless MCU Introduction
STMicroelectronics, a global leader in semiconductor manufacturing, have addressed the demand for a powerful yet low power consumption wireless connectivity solution with its STM32WB and STM32WBA series of wireless MCUs. These MCUs seamlessly combine the power and flexibility of the STM32 family with integrated wireless capabilities, making them ideal for a wide range of IoT applications.
The STM32WB series represents a versatile family of wireless MCUs that combine power efficiency with dual-core processing capabilities. These MCUs are engineered for applications where both Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and 2.4GHz proprietary wireless protocols are essential.
One of the defining features of the STM32WB series is its dual-core architecture. It combines an Arm Cortex-M4 core application processor running at 64 MHz for high-performance processing with an Arm Cortex-M0+ core network processor at 32 MHz for low-power tasks. This dual-core setup optimizes energy efficiency and facilitates efficient multitasking. It embeds connectivity features and a general-purpose MCU in a single System-on-Chip (SoC).
STM32WB MCUs natively support Bluetooth ® Low Energy (BLE), making them exceptionally well-suited for applications such as wearable devices, health monitoring, and smart home solutions. BLE ensures efficient and fast data transfer and minimal power consumption, critical for battery-operated devices. STM32WB comes with a certified Bluetooth® Low Energy 5.4 radio stack, profiles from the Bluetooth SIG, as well as a Mesh topology that is V1.0 compliant.
In addition to BLE, the STM32WB series accommodates various proprietary 2.4GHz wireless protocols including Zigbee, Thread and Matter along with an IEEE 802.15.4 MAC layer allowing designers to implement any proprietary protocols.
Zigbee network topologies with optimized footprints are supported, whilst Zigbee Reduced-Function Device (RFD) and Full-Function Device (FFD) deliveries cover end-device, coordinator, and router roles.
OpenThread is supported with technology covering all Minimal Thread Device (MTD), Full Thread Device (FTD), and border router deliveries. It addresses Sleepy End-Devices (SED), routers, and leader roles, thereby also enabling gateway infrastructures.
Supported by the STM32WB MCU, Matter is an application layer, which aims at making smart home devices interoperable. An open-source standard, Matter ensures seamless interactions between connected devices across different IP technologies. It is available in the Matter GitHub. In a Matter network, Bluetooth® Low Energy is used to commission devices. It runs in a dynamic concurrent mode with the Thread protocol.
It is also possible to run multiple protocols on the same STM32WB MCU, Bluetooth® Low Energy 5.4 together with 802.15.4 wireless protocols, Zigbee, or OpenThread protocols can be used in concurrent modes. This enables more convenient device management during installation and configuration, and significantly improves overall user experience.
Energy efficiency is a hallmark of STM32WB MCUs. They incorporate advanced power management features, including multiple low-power modes, to maximize battery life and reduce energy consumption, extending the operational lifetime of battery-powered devices.
Besides the impressive integrated multiprotocol radio and energy efficiency, the STM32WB MCUs don’t scrimp when it comes to features, they come equipped with a wide array of peripherals, including USB, UART, SPI, I2C, interfaces and more. This versatility makes them suitable for a broad spectrum of IoT applications and sensor interfacing.
The flexibility of the STM32WB MCU enables developers to create custom communication solutions tailored to specific application requirements.
STMicroelectronics have also developed two modules based on the STM32WB MCU which are fully supported with development boards, NUCLEO-WB55RG which is a STM32 Nucleo-64 development board with STM32WB55RG MCU installed, and the NUCLEO-WB15CC development board with STM32WB15CC installed. Both boards support Arduino and ST Morpho connectivity and are available for ordering on Anglia Live. These modules require no RF expertise and provide the best way to speed up the application development and to reduce the associated costs. The module is completely protocol stack royalty-free.
Building on the success of the STM32WB, the recently released STM32WBA series is yet another powerful family of wireless MCUs from STMicroelectronics, designed for demanding IoT applications that require secure long-range wireless communication. These MCUs offer ultra-low power consumption and support multiple wireless protocols combined with enhanced security, ensuring reliable connectivity.
Based on the Arm® Cortex®-M33 core running at 100 MHz with TrustZone® technology, the STM32WBA series provides a high level of security, protecting data, IPs, and preventing hacks or device cloning.
Focusing on the full Bluetooth® Low Energy 5.3 protocol, the STM32WBA series allows developers to easily add wireless communication to their device at an affordable cost. The devices leverage the STM32U5 architecture, meaning the STM32WBA series offers an ultra-low power platform and inherited digital and analog peripherals, suitable for many applications, from industrial, to smart home and consumer markets. The wireless MCU also supports Zigbee, Thread and Matter protocols.
The STM32WBA wireless MCUs embed large memory to sustain both applications and connectivity activities, coming with up to 1 Mbytes of flash memory and 128 Kbytes of RAM. A smart set of peripherals like ADC, touch sensing, timers, make this product a self-sufficient application wireless MCU. A variety of interfaces are also included, UART, SPI, I2C, and GPIOs. This rich set of peripherals enables simplified integration with sensors, displays, and other external components, facilitating the development of feature rich IoT applications. The STM32WBA is supported by the NUCLEO-WBA52CG, this STM32 Nucleo-64 development board is based on the STM32WBA52CG MCU.
STM32WBA series MCUs are adept at managing power modes to minimize energy consumption during both active and idle states. Featuring ultra-low power consumption that includes a Background Autonomous Mode (BAM) function which allows any of the peripherals, timers or memory blocks to wake up the MCU core when in sleep mode, this makes the STM32WBA MCUs particularly suitable for battery powered IoT applications.
Security is a paramount concern in IoT applications, and STM32WBA MCUs address this with TrustZone hardware-based security which includes features such as Secure Boot, Hardware Encryption, and secure firmware update mechanisms. These features protect data and device integrity. The devices are psa certified to level 3, a comprehensive IoT security assurance framework for secure digital transformation.
Both the STM32WB and STM32WBA series are well-suited for a wide spectrum of IoT, consumer and industrial applications, including: Wearable Devices for fitness tracking, health monitoring and diagnostics, Smart Home and IoT Devices for door locks, appliances, energy management and lighting control, Smart Cities where for example street lighting, parking meters and waste management systems can be monitored and controlled, Smart Agriculture where deployment of sensors is allowing farmers to optimize irrigation systems and enhance crop yields, Industrial Automation allowing real-time monitoring and control of manufacturing processes along with asset tracking, condition monitoring, and predictive maintenance. The list of possibilities is endless.
STMicroelectronics provides a comprehensive development ecosystem to support developers working with the STM32WB and STM32WBA series of wireless MCUs. This ecosystem includes the STM32CubeIDE a free, Eclipse-based Integrated Development Environments (IDE) tailored for STM32 microcontrollers, it simplifies development by providing project templates, code generation tools, and debugging capabilities.
The STM32Cube software platform also encompasses a wide range of software libraries, middleware, and example code to expedite application development. These libraries simplify tasks such as wireless communication, sensor integration, and power management. The software can be downloaded from ST’s website.
Hardware development kits and evaluation boards designed specifically for the STM32WB and STM32WBA series are also available. These kits come with pre-installed software and hardware components, streamlining the development process.
And as you would come to expect from STMicroelectronics, extensive documentation, including datasheets, reference manuals, and application notes are also provided. There is even a dedicated community which provides solutions and tips to overcome design challenges https://community.st.com/
STMicroelectronics' STM32WB and STM32WBA series of wireless MCUs are empowering developers to create energy-efficient, reliable, and secure IoT devices that can thrive in a connected world.
Anglia offers support for customer designs with free evaluation kits, demonstration boards and samples of STMicroelectronics products via the EZYsample service which is available to all registered Anglia Live account customers.
Anglia’s engineering team are also on hand to support designers, we can offer advice and support at component and system level. This expertise is available to assist customers with all aspects of their product design, providing hands on support and access to additional comprehensive STMicroelectronics resources which includes technical application notes and reference designs to help designers select the right product for their application.
Visit www.anglia-live.com to see the full range of STMicroelectronics products available from Anglia.
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