The long awaited 32-bit ARM based Z-Wave transceiver chip has finally been officially announced. The 700 series announcement is on the home page of the Silicon Labs web site so this is a big deal for SiLabs and Z-Wave. The companies joined forces just eight months ago and we already have a major advance in Z-Wave technology.
The 700 series is a major improvement to Z-Wave for both consumers and developers. For consumers, the lower power and longer radio range means more reliable communication and longer battery life. For developers the main advantage is we’ve finally moved beyond the 1980s 8051 8-bit CPU with very limited debug capability into a modern 32-bit ARM CPU with full serial wire debugging capabilities. We can FINALLY single step thru code instead of having to use PRINTF!
700 Series Features:
- Longer RF range
- 150% in the US and 200% in the EU due to improved RF sensitivity and increased transmit power in the EU
- Lower Power = Longer Battery Life
- Improved semiconductor technology and a faster CPU yields significant battery life improvement and 10 year coin cell operation
- Lower Cost – Worldwide Support
- Improved RF blocking means the country specific SAW filter is not needed saving cost and making a single SKU for worldwide operation
- No external serial memory is required and OTA firmware update is now mandatory
- Easier Product Development
- Integrated Debug Environment (IDE) with full ARM debug, single step, trace, and energy profiler speeds product development
- 100% Interoperable and Backwards Compatible
- The 700 series is fully interoperable with all mesh-networked Z-Wave devices all the way back to the pre-100 series Z-Wave devices
When Can I Get One?
If you already signed up for a free Beta devkit, then one should be on its way in the next few weeks. Devkits have begun shipping but quantities are limited and will take until the end of January before all the Beta samples are shipped. The Beta signup closed back on October 1st so if you missed the deadline you’ll have to wait until later in Q1 to request one from your Silicon Labs salesperson. The official “general availability” (GA) release is the end of Q1 at which time the datasheets, chips, devkits and software will be released at the 7.xx full release version. Datasheets require an NDA until the GA release.
You can get started today using the Simplicity Studio IDE and begin developing code and explore the SDK. The software is free and can be downloaded from here.
My Initial Thoughts
I’ve had a 700 series Beta DevKit for a few weeks now working with our Alpha release partners to get some early feedback. We’ve had some hiccups and the firmware needs more work but the silicon is solid. I have joined my 700 series devkit to my home and it communicates fine with my very early pre-100 series Z-Wave light switches attesting to the ongoing commitment Z-Wave has to be fully interoperable and backwards compatible.