Qualcomm is getting serious about the IoT market with enhancements to their low power Ethernet boards. In addition to an updated SDK and software stack, the biggest news is worldwide availability.
The two modules in question are the QCA4002 and QCA4004, both of which have been out for a while. These two are the Qualcomm Atheros single and dual-mode IoT low power Wi-Fi boards, 2.4GHz and 2.4/5GHz respectively. Both support 802.11a/b/g/n though so it is really a question of need for 5GHz as the deciding factor. The big QCA4004 module looks like this.
Atheros makes low power Wi-Fi sexy again
In case you are wondering what an IoT oriented low-power Wi-Fi radio module does, it couples with a Freescale K22F board with an ARM M4 based controller. There are three main parts, the SP140 controller board itself, the SP141 radio module with a QCA4002, and the SP144 radio with a QCA4004. That is basically it for the hardware side, the big news there is that by the time you read this, Arrow Electronics will have them available for worldwide sales, hopefully here if the HTML gods smile on me.
More importantly there is the software side which leans heavily on the Alljoyn framework, it is basically a standards set for the IoT world from the AllSeen Alliance. The idea is to have a base set of standards for interoperability and software for the IoT space and do it in an open source way. Qualcomm started this group but it now encompasses nearly everyone that matters in the space. If you want to be in the IoT world you will have to at least play nice with AllJoyn or do everything yourself.
With the new distribution channel for their radios, Qualcomm announced a big update to the software to go with it. It starts with a new SDK that ups the version from 3.0 to 3.2, but those are just Qualcomm internal names, not something you are likely to see. It does bring the 4002/4004 up to speed with the latest AllJoyn standards as the main feature. From there they add, “cloud connectivity” via 2Lemetry’s ThingFabric framework. Other than vastly simplifying the plumbing, ThingFabric adds SSL to the mix, a small but vital piece.
In the end there isn’t all that much to shout about but the advances are actually really worthwhile. You can now buy a low power Wi-Fi IoT development platform with a fully AllJoyn compliant software stack anywhere in the world. The components are pretty standard stuff, a good thing in this space, and with the new SDK and software you don’t have to do the plumbing work yourself. Best of all, it is secure, or at least as secure as SSL is on the transmission side. With luck the AllJoyn framework will take care of the rest of the device security so all that is left for you to do is code your apps.S|A