TME: Wi-Fi modules deliver highest possible level of security for data transmission

The ATWINC15x0 series Wi-Fi modules from Microchip are well suited for the IoT. These are network controllers working according to the IEEE802.11 b/g/n standard, transmitting data wirelessly in the 2.4GHz frequency band.   

Network controllers cooperate with an external microcontroller which is mainly responsible for running the actual application. The supervising microcontroller, i.e. the MASTER device, communicates with the network controller using one of the popular interfaces (in this case, SPI). The main functionality of the network controller (the module) is handling the lower layers of the OSI networking model, that is converting the transmitted data into a form suitable for transmission over wireless networks (in this case, the Wi-Fi ones). Therefore, the ATWINC15x0 series modules have built-in support of the TCP/IP protocol stack, and also the physical layer (link control). Thanks to this, the microcontroller can use its whole processing power to handle the actual application. It allows for connecting to Wi-Fi networks even those devices that use relatively simple microcontrollers (e.g. 16-bit ones).

The operating voltage range for the ATWINC15x0 series modules is 3-4.2VDC. In active state, the power consumption is 172mA (TX) and 70mA (RX), however it's worth noting that the module is able to establish a connection with the access point in as little as 150 ms from the moment it's woken up! Such a short time is excellent news in terms of IoT, because it means that the modules can spend most of the time in sleep state, in which they consume just 390µA.

The ATWINC15x0 network controllers offers advanced mechanisms in terms of providing security and integrity of the data they transfer. As for security measures used at the highest layers of the OSI model (the application layer), the modules support the latest version (v1.2) of the TLS protocol.

The TCP/IP stack implemented in the ATWINC15x0 modules supports up to 4 simultaneous data exchange sessions based on TCP and up to 7 sessions based on UDP in client/server mode. The ATWINC15x0 series controller can also work as an access terminal, Soft-AP handling just a single session. It's also possible to update the module firmware „on the fly”, that is, without interrupting its normal work. The following table summarizes the features of the TCP/IP stack implemented in the ATWINC 15x0 series modules.

Development tools such as the ATWINC-XPRO expansion board with an XPRO socket allow for connecting it to SAM Xplained development boards.  There's also the AC164156 expansion board available, featuring the Pictail Plus connector meant for use with development boards for the PIC microcontrollers, and also the WiFi 7 ClickBoard expansion board, made by MikroElektronika and fitted with a MikroBUS connector. Conducted tests proved compatibility of the ATWINC15x0 modules with 357 Access Points from various manufacturers. The controllers have a certificate of conformity issued by the Wi-Fi Alliance (WFA Certification) and meet the requirements of FCC (USA), CE/ETSI (Europe), IC (Canada), and Anatel (Brazil). ATWINC15x0 modules have software support both in ATMEL Studio 7 and in MPLAB Harmony environments.

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