During an on-site media briefing, Oliver Lardy, Senior Marketing Manager-Wireless Asia Pacific (excluding China) and Mohit Arora, GPM Wireless Marketing Manager South Asia and India, of STMicroelectronics delved deep into the STM 32 wireless MCUs ecosystem consisting of applications, solutions, and products ranging from entry-level to high-end.

The focus of the briefing was the STM32 wireless MCU portfolio, highlighted by the world’s first LoRa-enabled SoC (STM32WL) capable of accommodating diverse protocols such as LoRa, SigFox, and Wireless Mbus. The presentation also shed light on the STM32WBA designed for Bluetooth Low Energy products along with 802.15.4 protocols like ZigBee, Thread, and Matter. Additionally, the STM32WB5M was introduced as a multi-protocol solution, designed to be easily implemented even without prior wireless experience.

The briefing also highlighted the ASTRA platform, which expedites prototyping through its pre-certified hardware and pre-validated software integration. The session emphasized ST’s wireless connectivity offering comprehensive hardware, software, and technical support for a wide array of current and future applications.

Can you explain the recent surge in demand for wireless technologies and how it’s impacting various industries?

Oliver Lardy, Senior Marketing Manager-Wireless Asia Pacific (excluding China), STMicroelectronics

Oliver Lardy: Certainly. In recent years, there has been a significant increase in demand for wireless technologies across industries. This surge is driven by the proliferation of wireless-connected devices like smartwatches, smart bands, and the need for connectivity in various applications. Industries such as construction, bicycles, appliances, and asset tracking are adopting wireless technologies to enhance functionality and efficiency. For instance, in construction, tools with Bluetooth and UWB connectivity allow for location tracking and anti-counterfeit measures. This trend reflects a growing need for wireless solutions in diverse applications.

How is the demand for wireless technologies reflected in the market figures, and why is it important for ST to invest in this area?

Oliver Lardy: The market for wireless technologies is experiencing significant growth, with all wireless protocols showing an upward trend. ABI Research predicts sustained expansion in this market. This demand reinforces the importance of ST’s investment in wireless technologies. The variety of wireless protocols and applications necessitates versatile solutions to cater to diverse needs. By offering a range of wireless products and supporting various protocols, ST can meet the evolving demands of the market.

Can you elaborate on ST’s approach to wireless connectivity and its key pillars?

Oliver Lardy: Certainly. ST’s approach revolves around five key pillars. First, supporting a wide range of wireless protocols, currently in the sub-Gigahertz and 2.4 Gigahertz domains. Second, providing an extensive hardware offering to cater to diverse customer needs. Third, enabling seamless software migration by leveraging the established STM32 ecosystem. Fourth, engaging with standardization alliances like CSA and FIRA to influence specifications and certifications. Fifth, emphasizing security features to prevent potential attacks as wireless connectivity expands.

Could you explain ST’s STM32WL family and how it fits into the wireless landscape?

Oliver Lardy: The STM32WL family addresses the sub-Gigahertz market and is multi-protocol capable, supporting protocols like LoRa, SigFox, and Wireless Mbus. It offers worldwide compatibility and can be configured for different countries’ regulations. This family leverages the STM32L4 platform, customized with radio IP interface. Its familiarity with STM32 peripherals facilitates development. Additionally, the family includes single-core and dual-core versions, with the dual-core version enhancing system security.

Kindly explain about STM32WB5M module and What advantage does this all-in-one design offer to customers?

Oliver Lardy: The STM32WB5M module is based on the STM32WB55 silicon. It measures 7.3mm x 11mm, and includes all the necessary components, including crystals, SMPS Components and antenna, within its design. Customers only need to solder the module, and ST has all certifications for Bluetooth and most regional compliances, providing a hassle-free experience. This is particularly beneficial for those without prior wireless experience, ensuring a more secure path for their applications.

How is security addressed in ST’s wireless products, and what certifications are pursued to ensure robust security measures?

Oliver Lardy: Security is a crucial aspect of ST’s wireless products. They incorporate features like active tamper detection, debug port locking, and side-channel attack protection. ST also pursues external certifications such as SESIP L3, which involves rigorous testing and assessment by a certification authority. This approach ensures a balanced combination of hardware and software security measures while considering cost implications.

In the context of wireless technologies, what is ST’s vision and strategy for the future?

Oliver Lardy: ST’s vision is to become a leading company in wireless technologies. The company aims to introduce more product families and enrich its ecosystem to meet the evolving demands of the market. With a focus on low power and security, ST intends to provide state-of-the-art solutions that address a wide range of wireless applications. By actively participating in standardization alliances and contributing to specifications, ST aims to shape the wireless landscape and continue driving innovation.

Can you provide an overview of the STM32WBA and how developers can get started with it?

Mohit Arora, GPM Wireless Marketing Manager South Asia and India, STMicroelectronics

Mohit Arora: The STM32WBA is a wireless SoC offered by GPM Wireless Group. It comes with a Nucleo development board that includes a debugger and necessary hardware components. We provide a complete ecosystem of software, IDEs, and tools to support developers. This includes the Cube MX code generation tool, standardized layers and guidelines under STM32Cube compliance, and various extension packages for wireless protocols and sensors. Additionally, we offer tools like BlueNRG-GUI for Bluetooth emulation and BLUENRG Current Estimation tool for power profiling simulations. All of these resources are available on our website.

How can customers use the anti-tamper features of STM32WBA?

Mohit Arora: The STM32WBA implements various security features that include an anti-tamper detection. With this feature, the MCUs can detect events like transient perturbations and can erase secret data in case of attack, save a calendar timestamp of the tamper event, and detect pins for opens/shorts. All tamper events can trigger a hardware action or a software call defined by a user.

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Could you elaborate on the Cube MX code generation tool and its role in firmware development?

Mohit Arora: Cube MX is a powerful code generation tool that simplifies the firmware development process. It allows developers to select boards, peripherals, and packages, configure settings, and generate code. The generated code follows STM32Cube compliance, ensuring easy portability across STM32 families. Cube MX supports various extension packages, such as X-CUBE-LORA and X-CUBE-BLE for wireless protocols, along with AI packages and more. The project can be generated for different IDEs, including our free STM32CubeIDE.

How does GPM Wireless Group support developers working on Bluetooth Low Energy applications?

Mohit Arora: We offer an extensive set of tools, including the STM32Cube Ecosystem, Current estimation tool, BlueNRG-GUI PC tool for Bluetooth emulation etc. This tool helps developers trace and verify processes during Bluetooth Low Energy development. Additionally, we provide documentation for pre-validating designs for different regional radio frequency compliances. For post-initial development, we offer programming, monitoring, and emulation tools, such as the power profiling tool, to fine-tune designs and ensure compliance before production.

How does ST support developers’ interest in Matter (formerly CHIP) protocol for smart home devices?

Mohit Arora: We are committed to supporting Matter, a new protocol for smart home devices, offering an IP-compliant backbone for future-proof connectivity. Developers can create Matter nodes with our STM32WB family, which combines Bluetooth and IEEE 802.15.4 functionality in same dual core device.. These nodes use open thread on IEEE 802.15.4 for IP-compliant connectivity, with Bluetooth used for commissioning. We provide a complete ecosystem, including hardware, software for end node and a gateway with Zigbee Bridge as reference for Matter-based applications.

Could you explain the benefits of the ASTRA platform and its role in IoT development?

Mohit Arora: The ASTRA platform is a comprehensive reference design suitable for a range of applications, such as asset tracking, cold chain monitoring, and more. It integrates multiple wireless technologies, sensors, power management, and battery charging, simplifying rapid prototyping. With ASTRA, developers can access ST provided mobile app platform, a cloud dashboard for evaluation, and function pack for firmware. The hardware is pre-certified, and function packs provide pre-validated software integration, streamlining the development process.

Can you elaborate on ST’s overall product development and customer support strategy?

Mohit Arora: Our strategy is centred around simplifying customers’ development journey and ensuring ease of product maintenance throughout its lifecycle. We offer versatile and scalable products, ranging from individual wireless devices, high end wireless SoCs to integrated reference platforms like ASTRA. Our focus is on complete end-to-end solutions, including hardware, software, tools, mobile apps, and cloud integration. We constantly explore new use cases and requirements to enhance our offerings, aiming to provide developers with convenient, adaptable, and powerful solutions.