Official Blog of Silicon Labs

      • Webinar: Wireless M-Bus (Europe)

        Nari | 03/90/2015 | 10:00 AM

        Date: April 22, 2015

        Time: 3:00 PM  Central European Summer Time


        The Wireless M-Bus standard (EN13757-4:2005 and 2012) specifies the RF communication link between water, gas, heat, and electric meters and the data collecting devices and has become the de-facto wireless communication protocol for battery powered smart meters in Europe.


        This webinar will present an overview of Wireless M-Bus, its unique regional requirements and highlight Silicon Labs complete solution for Wireless M-Bus applications.



      • EZR32 - The One Chip Wireless Solution to All Your Integrated RF and MCU Needs

        Nari | 03/90/2015 | 05:38 AM


        What do you get when you combine an energy friendly 32-bit MCU with a high performance, low power radio? The ability to design high performance, long range wireless connectivity into your applications via a single seamlessly integrated wireless MCU!


        Applications that require long battery life, increased wireless range, small form factor and the flexibility to support proprietary as well as standard wireless protocols can be enabled by using the EZR32 wireless MCU. Target applications include smart metering, wireless sensor networks, home and building automation, security systems, remote monitoring, and asset tracking.





        The EZR32 family of wireless MCUs combine a high performance 32-bit MCU for demanding applications and a long range transceiver that provides RF coverage over a wide frequency band for all geographic regions. Featuring a complete family of parts with multiple radio and MCU options, the EZR32 family provides developers flexibility and scalability across a wide range of applications with little to no redesign. The low standby, transmit and receive power consumption of the EZRadio and EZRadioPRO transceivers combined with the low-power operating modes, sleep modes and fast wake-up times of the EFM32 MCUs, provide an ideal solution for battery powered wireless applications without compromising the RF performance.


        All of this is backed by a great development environment, Simplicity Studio, sample applications and software stacks to simplify the process of adding sub-GHz connectivity to battery-powered IoT designs.

        The EZR32 family includes two pin-compatible product lines: EZR32LG devices based on an ARM Cortex-M3 CPU core and EZR32WG devices based on an ARM Cortex-M4 CPU core. Each of these product lines has multiple options for radios to provide a solution that is a perfect fit for your application!

        Like what you see? Learn more about EZR32 wireless starter kits here.

      • What Could You Make with a Proximity, Temperature, and Humidity Sensor?

        lethawicker | 03/89/2015 | 09:44 AM

        Still looking for some inspiration for the Your IoT contest? Have we got a boost for your creativity. The proximity, temperature and humidity sensor evaluation kit comes with an EFM32 Zero Gecko MCU and a USB port. All you have to do is plug it into a computer with Simplicity Studio installed, and start tinkering. Here are some questions to get you started:

        • How could this combination of sensors be used to safeguard the temperature and humidity of the food chain during transport?
        • Could you use it to tell when a container or other case has been opened remotely?
        • Where could it be useful to know when humidity gets over a certain point?
        • Could you use these measurements to make the next generation of home or work environmental controls?

        If those questions don’t spark any ideas, here’s a video going into a lot more detail.


        To get your own Proximity, Temperature and Humidity Sensor Starter Kit:


        Buy References Resources
        Buy User Guide In Simplicity Studio
      • A New Kickstarter Project Aims to Make DIY Home Automation a Reality

        Nari | 03/83/2015 | 04:58 PM

        Using open source modules, a start-up in Utah is trying to simplify home automation systems that save energy and make life awesome. The DIY Home Automation project is designed to help developers easily build DIY automation projects with Hero Kits equipped with Silicon Labs’ EFM32 microcontrollers (MCUs). We interviewed Joe George, the founder of Engimusing, about his Kickstarter project and why his team picked Silicon Labs’ MCU for the Hero Kits.


        View the DIY Home Automation kickster project


        Q. Can you introduce yourself and tell us about Engimusing?


        We are a start-up company in Salt Lake City, Utah. 18 months ago we started designing tiny Arduino compatible modules to help put together projects more quickly and easily. We designed the modules to stack with rugged connectors that snap together easily. The connector system chosen also has snap-in wires so it is easy to connect modules together. The EFM32 Gecko Microcontroller family was chosen for its performance, size, cost, and low power consumption.




        ‘Smart homes’ have interested me since I did the electrical wiring of my new home built in 1985 and used low-voltage switches; not the traditional lighting system. This allowed for master control panels and smart switches.


        On relocating to Salt Lake City, I bought a classic home built over 100 years ago. Despite its ‘good bones’, it was severely lacking in some areas. During the remodel of the house, I started thinking about home automation – specifically how the modules we were developing could be used. Soon, we made home automation our primary focus. We found the openHAB project. It is a great open source home automation framework that runs on just about any computer (such as the Raspberry Pi) and already has Android and iOS apps.


        Q. What are the key differentiators of your Kickstarter project compared to other home automation solutions on the market?


        There are many home automation solutions out there, but we wanted to create a solution special for the maker and DIY community. This group doesn’t just want a home automation system, they want their home automation system; they want to be in control of the details. This group is currently building home automation projects with Arduinos and breakout boards. Engimusing modules allow them to use the free openHAB software and control their system with smart phones. These modules are easy to snap together, allowing customization without soldering or much hardware skill.




        Q. Many of your sensors like the carbon monoxide gas sensor, tilt sensor and reflective object sensor use the EFM32ZG108 Gecko low power microcontroller. Are there any specific reasons for that?


        We want to have a large number of easy to use sensors that connect together. The EFM32ZG108 is small (5mm x 5mm), needs low power, and is inexpensive. A lot of intelligence can be added to sensors without increasing the product cost significantly. It also has enough interfaces and I/O pads that we can use it on most of our sensors. One of the great things about the EFM32 Gecko Microcontrollers is that consistent peripherals across the family means not having to learn new interfaces each time a different part is chosen.


        Q. One of the key features of your modules is their small size which aids their versatility. How has using the Silicon Labs EFM32 Gecko microcontroller used in them helped with this?


        The broad range of package sizes with great lower-end options makes our module size possible. Additionally, the minimal number of external support components required by the Gecko microcontrollers allows us to drive to smaller footprints. I also really like that only 3 pins are needed for programming, it saves a lot of space.


        Q. Can you elaborate on plans you have for further development once the Kickstarter deadline has been reached?

        We will keep developing more sensors and controllers to enable more exciting home automation projects. We also plan to leverage our module ecosystem for other hobbyist and professional applications. In the near future our focus will be on battery and energy harvesting based products.


      • Jitter: What It Is, Why It Matters, What You Can Do to Minimize It

        lethawicker | 03/78/2015 | 11:09 AM

        Jitter isn't just the unfortunate side effect of a caffeine bender. It can be a serious challenge when you’re designing with high frequency reference clocks. As communication standards demand ever higher speeds, especially in PCIe, 10/40/100G Ethernet, Broadcast Video and CPRI/OBSAI applications, it's becoming increasingly difficult to meet the constraints put on timing budgets.

        Technically, jitter is the undesired deviation from true periodicity of a periodic signal in relation to a timing reference such as a reference clock signal or reference point in time. In simpler terms, jitter is a timing uncertainty between a desired signal or time frame and the actual signal.

        You can picture it like this:


        Why does jitter matter?

        Why do we need to worry about jitter? Many new protocols and standards specify clock jitter requirements in order to ensure spec compliant and robust operation. These requirements weren't common in the past, but now jitter is a mainstream topic in system design. It’s vital to understand jitter's characteristics, effects, specification, measurement and mitigation.

        Jitter Classes

        Jitter is divided into two top-level classes: Random jitter (Gaussian jitter) and Deterministic jitter.

        • Random jitter - Random or Gaussian jitter is always present—it is intrinsic noise. When you look at a wave representing a Gaussian curve, you'll notice quickly that neither end of the curve goes all the way down to zero. Even though the values can be very small, they are not zero. This is why Gaussian jitter is also referred to as unbounded.
        • Deterministic jitter - Deterministic jitter isn't intrinsic or random and has a specific cause (although sometimes it can be hard to figure out what that cause actually is). You can break deterministic jitter down into to two sub-classes:

        -       Periodic jitter- has a discernible period and can be caused by things like switching power supply noise.

        -       Data dependent jitter- is often quasi-periodic, like inter symbol interference caused by a serial data stream like Ethernet or PCI Express.

        Minimizing jitter

        Using a Jitter Attenuating Clock is the best way to reduce jitter and the unwanted effects it can have on your applications. Silicon Labs jitter attenuators will generate any output frequency from any input frequency with ultra-low jitter. Any input, any output, with no compromises.


        For more information watch our “Primer on Jitter, Jitter Measurement and Phase-Locked Loops” or if you are in the San Francisco Bay Area you can attend our Jitter Workshop next month!

      • Clock Jitter Smackdown Workshop (CA)

        Nari | 03/77/2015 | 09:29 AM

        Date: Thursday April 9, 2015

        Time: 9:00AM - 1:00PM


        UCSC Silicon Valley Extension
        2505 Augustine Dr
        Santa Clara, CA 95054


        Presented by: Tony Smith


        Cost: FREE

        Breakfast and lunch will be provided





        Jitter isn't just the unfortunate side effect of a caffeine bender. It can be a serious challenge when you’re designing with high frequency reference clocks. As communication standards demand ever higher speeds, especially in PCIe, 10/40/100G Ethernet, Broadcast Video and CPRI/OBSAI applications, it's becoming increasingly difficult to meet the constraints put on timing budgets.
        Join us at our half-day workshop covering the in's and out's of all things jitter, including:
        • What is jitter? Why is it ruining your life?
        • Classes of Jitter: Random vs Deterministic
        • Types of jitter measurements
        • How to minimize Jitter in your design

        Click here to register 

      • SX Create presented by Silicon Labs

        Nari | 03/75/2015 | 09:17 AM

        Calling all creators, makers, and hackers -- or those who dream of being one!


        Silicon Labs bridged together some of the hottest startups and hardware companies to SX Create at last weekend's SXSW show in Austin, Texas. Watch the overview video below to get a glimpse of the event. 



        How to combine Internet of Things technology with real world interactive gaming? David Lynch from Sabertron showcased Sabertron game swords that keep score electronically by using Silicon Labs’ EFM32 microcontrollers and wireless technology.



        Silicon Labs announced a collaboration with ARM to define and deliver the first power management application programming interfaces (API) for ARM mbed platforms. Click here to view the full announcement



        Children who visited Silicon Labs' booth got a chance to learn how to incorporate a Silicon Labs' proximity sensor device into Littlebits. 



        If you want to catch up on all the cool demos from us and our partners at SXSW, check out this video playlist:


      • Silicon Labs and ARM® mbed Unite for Reduced Power Consumption

        lethawicker | 03/71/2015 | 04:01 PM

        Today, we announced our collaboration with ARM® mbed to bring power management APIs to the mbed platform. These low power APIs make it easier than ever to reduce the power consumption of projects you’re developing. Piloting those low power APIs will be Silicon Labs EFM32™ MCUs.




        Starting in April, you’ll be able to order an EFM32 MCU (Wonder, Leopard, Giant or Zero Gecko) mbed-enabled kits and software. What will you get out of this new partnership? The ability to radically reduce system-level energy usage by automatically configuring the optimal sleep mode based on which MCU peripherals are in use. It’s an easy way to add functionality without adding power consumption.


        Find out more.

      • Rhythm+ heart rate monitor using high precision optical sensors

        Palak | 03/71/2015 | 05:08 AM


        The Rhythm+ is an armband heart rate monitor that helps you measure your heart rate in real time through smartphones, tablets, sport watches and any other devices that support Bluetooth Smart or Ant+ heart rate data. The monitor is optimized for tracking heart rate when you are actively moving around with an elevated heart rate with a comfortable armband instead of a restrictive chest strap.




        In order to detect motions in the skin precisely, Rhythm+ makes use of Silicon Labs' optical sensor placed on its back, to optically measure weak blood flow signals and enable highly accurate tracking of continuous heart rate even under intense exercise.. The sensor integrates an infrared photodiode, ambient light sensor, LED drivers and signal processing. Two green LEDs and 1 yellow LED are used to shine light into the skin. As the heart pumps, the light reflected from arterial blood changes and is detected by the optical sensor. Advanced signal processing extracts the heart rate and adjusts for motion and physiological artifacts that can cause inaccurate heart rate measurements. Green has been found to work well for people with light skin complexions. A yellow LED is added to provide better accuracy for people with dark pigmented skin.


        The monolithic Si114x sensors integrate high sensitivity photodiodes, a low-noise analog-to-digital converter, analog filtering, up to 3-LED drivers and a digital I2C control interface into one tiny 2 x 2 mm package. Broad spectral sensitivity supports green through 940nm LEDs for wrist, ear, and finger-tip heart rate/SpO2 signals. This low-power sensing family enables long battery life with standby less than 500 nA.


        Learn more about Silicon Labs' wearable sensors here:


      • Blue Gecko Sample Program Register Now!

        lethawicker | 03/70/2015 | 04:56 PM

        Take advantage of this opportunity to register now for early access to our new Blue Gecko-based Bluetooth Smart modules, Bluegiga software development kit (SDK) and the Bluegiga Bluetooth Smart software stack. Show your interest here!

        Blue Gecko Module