Silicon Labs Targets China’s Smart Metering Market with Best-in-Class Wireless Transceiver

  Silicon Labs Targets China’s Smart Metering Market with Best-in-Class
  Wireless Transceiver

New Si4438 EZRadioPRO® IC Provides Cost-Effective, High-performance, Low-Power
         Sub-GHz Wireless Connectivity for Smart Energy Applications

IIC China

Business Wire

SHENZHEN, China -- February 28, 2013

Silicon Labs (NASDAQ: SLAB), a leader in high-performance, analog-intensive,
mixed-signal ICs, today introduced a high-performance, ultra-low-power
wireless transceiver optimized for China’s rapidly growing smart metering
market. Silicon Labs’ new Si4438 EZRadioPRO® IC is designed to maximize
wireless range and battery life while reducing bill of materials (BOM) cost by
30 percent for smart meters. Designed for the 425-525 MHz ISM band, the Si4438
transceiver also provides an ideal sub-GHz wireless solution for in-home
energy management systems and other smart grid infrastructure applications
such as long-range back-haul communications to utilities.

One of the world’s fastest-growing smart metering markets, China is rapidly
upgrading its power grid to a “greener” smart grid, and smart meters for
residences and businesses are key elements of this grid transformation.
According to a new report by Pike Research, the installed base of smart meters
in China will grow from 139 million units in 2012 to 377 million units by
2020. Smart meter market penetration in China will also reach 74 percent by

Silicon Labs engineered the Si4438 transceiver to meet the performance, energy
efficiency, system cost and regulatory requirements of smart meters operating
in the 470-510 MHz band in China. Featuring an efficient on-chip power
amplifier (PA), the Si4438 IC provides extended range and robust communication
links for smart metering by leveraging best-in-class specifications in
transmit output power (+20 dBm), sensitivity (-124 dBm), link budget (144 dB)
and adjacent channel rejection (58 dB). Built-in antenna diversity and support
for frequency hopping further extends range and enhances wireless performance.
Tightly integrated into the Si4438 transceiver, antenna diversity can improve
the system link budget by 8-10 dB, resulting in substantial range increases
even under adverse environmental conditions.

The Si4438 transceiver is the most energy-efficient sub-GHz wireless solution
available for China’s smart metering market. The Si4438 IC’s 50 nA
sleep/standby current (with register retention) is 40 times lower than
competing transceivers in the China market. From its 50 nA sleep mode, the
Si4438 transceiver can transition to either receive (RX) or transmit (TX) mode
in only 450 microseconds. The device’s active mode TX current consumption of
75 mA at +20 dBm and active RX current consumption of 14 mA, coupled with its
ultra-low standby current and fast wake times, maximize battery life for
power-sensitive wireless applications, resulting in fewer battery replacements
and/or reduced battery size with the same lifetime cost savings.

Because of the Si4438 transceiver’s high performance and integration, there is
no need to add external PAs, low-noise amplifiers (LNAs) or surface acoustic
wave (SAW) filters for most wireless applications, thereby reducing BOM cost.
The on-chip PA can be used to compensate for the reduced performance of
low-cost antennas while competing solutions require larger, costlier external
PAs to achieve comparable performance. An integrated temperature sensor,
power-on-reset and GPIOs further reduce system cost and board size. The Si4438
IC is designed to work with a low-cost MCU, a crystal and a few passive
components to create a cost-effective wireless system. Its 4 mm x 4 mm package
is also the smallest in its class, minimizing board real estate.

The Si4438 IC is pin compatible with Silicon Labs’ Si446x EZRadioPRO
transceivers, which can be used in worldwide sub-GHz ISM frequency bands for
smart meter/smart grid products designed for global deployment. The EZRadioPRO
family includes a complete line of transmitters, receivers and transceivers
covering a wide range of wireless applications. In addition, Silicon Labs
offers Ember® ZigBee® wireless networking solutions for smart energy and
connected home applications in the 2.4 GHz band, as well as 32-bit Precision32
MCUs, mixed-signal 8-bit MCUs, wireless MCUs, and digital isolators for smart
metering applications.

“Smart metering and other smart grid applications require highly sophisticated
and yet cost-effective and easy-to-deploy wireless technology,” said Diwakar
Vishakhadatta, vice president and general manager of Silicon Labs’ Embedded
Systems business. “China’s fast-growing smart metering market will benefit
from wireless connectivity solutions that deliver exceptional performance and
ultra-low sleep current at minimal BOM cost. Silicon Labs’ new Si4438 IC is
the ideal sub-GHz transceiver to meet these application challenges for China’s
smart grid.”

Developer-Friendly Wireless Development Environment

Silicon Labs provides an array of hardware and software development tools to
help developers get their smart metering products to market faster. The
4438-490-PDK development kit provides all the essential tools to evaluate the
Si4438 IC for smart metering designs operating at the 490 MHz frequency. The
kit includes two C8051F930 MCU-based motherboards, two RF pico-boards and two
antennas optimized for the 425-525 MHz frequency band, making it very easy to
set up a wireless link. Silicon Labs’ GUI-based Wireless Development Suite
(WDS) software with sample code enables developers to quickly and intuitively
create and deploy robust, cost-effective wireless applications with little or
no specific RF design and configuration experience.

Pricing and Availability

The Si4438 EZRadioPRO transceiver is priced at $2.03 (USD) in 10,000-unit
quantities, and samples are available now. The 4438-490-PDK development kit is
available now for $299 (USD MSRP). For additional Si4438 product information
and to purchase samples and development tools, please visit

Silicon Labs

Silicon Labs is an industry leader in the innovation of high-performance,
analog-intensive, mixed-signal ICs. Developed by a world-class engineering
team with unsurpassed expertise in mixed-signal design, Silicon Labs’ diverse
portfolio of patented semiconductor solutions offers customers significant
advantages in performance, size and power consumption. For more information
about Silicon Labs, please visit

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Dale Weisman, +1-512-532-5871
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