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Linux dev kit helps embed WiFi in devices

Oct 8, 2013 — by Rick Lehrbaum — 1416 views

Silex Technology America announced a hardware/software development kit aimed at easing the task of building WiFi into specialized equipment. The Silex embedded WiFi development kit includes a small module with a Qualcomm Atheros AR6003 WiFi radio and a Freescale i.MX28 application processor, a development baseboard, and an embedded Linux software development kit.

The core of Silex’s model SX-580-2700DM-SDK development kit is the company’s SX-580 WiFi computer-on-module (COM). This 30 x 55mm COM (shown below) integrates an even smaller module containing Qualcomm’s Atheros 6003 dual-band 802.11a/b/g/n radio, along with a Freescale i.MX28 system-on-chip running an optimized Linux-based TCP/IP network stack. Silex says it designed the SX-580 COM for use in specialized applications such as medical devices, weighing and measuring equipment, and networked printers.

Silex SX-580 WiFi COM, front and back
(click images to enlarge)


In addition to the SX-580 WiFi COM, the SX-580-2700DM-SDK includes a development baseboard, a Linux SDK (software development kit) for use in customizing the SX-580’s embedded Linux stack, and complete hardware and software documentation.

Silex SX-580-6900 baseboard
(click image to enlarge)


As seen above, the SX-580-6900 baseboard offers real-world connectors for Ethernet, three serial ports, USB, and power, plus header-based access to SPI and I2C interfaces. A WiFi antenna is also provided in the kit.

The SX-580’s Linux SDK is said to provide “full, industry-leading security” including WPA, WPA2, WPA2-PSK, WPA, WPA-PSK, and WEP, plus 802.1x authentication with the most commonly used EAP types. The SDK also provides serial- and Ethernet-to-WiFi capabilities, including transparent bridging. The latter allows an Ethernet-connected device to communicate wirelessly, without requiring modifications to its existing software, says Silex. The module’s serial ports support speeds up to 3Mbps.

“We saw the demand for developing proprietary custom software programs for applications, so we expanded our portfolio to provide an SDK for our OEM customers,” explains Keith Sugawara, vice president of business development at Silex America. “With the Linux-based kit, engineers can integrate and build their own custom applications, while getting the full benefit of Silex’s WLAN connectivity solution.”

Specifications listed by Silex for its SX-580 WiFi COM appear below:

  • Processor — Freescale i.MX280; ARM9 core clocked at 454MHz
  • RAM — 64MB SDRAM
  • Flash — 32MB
  • WiFi module — SX-SDMAN:
    • Supports 802.11a/b/g/n
    • Based on Qualcomm Atheros AR6003
    • 2x UFL antenna connectors
  • I/O ports:
    • 10/100Mbps Ethernet
    • 3x UART
    • 2x USB
    • Other — SPI, I2C, GPIO
  • Power — +5VDC @ 300mA (typ)
  • Operating temperature — -10 to +70°C
  • Dimensions — 55 x 30 x 9.25mm (2.2 x 1.2 x 0.36 inches)
  • Software — Linux 2.6

The Silex SX-580-2700DM-SDK embedded WiFi development kit is available immediately, priced at $450. Further details are available at the company’s SX-580-2700DM-SDK product page.

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