The number of IoT devices is immense and seems to be rapidly approaching asymptotic. Hyperbole aside, according to the website, statista.com that amount will jump from about 26 billion devices currently deployed around the world to 75 billion in 2025. The fact that currently most of these operate in the 2.4GHz range, presents a problem for experimenters and developers. Congested airwaves!
What will we do? What hero will rise up and lead us out of that electromagnetic miasma to clearer waters? And be cost-effective while doing it?
The recently released Ivy5661 developed by uCRobotics might be that hero. The Ivy5661 takes advantage of the 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard therefore avoiding the issue of 2.4GHz interference by operating at 5GHz.
The Ivy6551 is based on the Linaro 96boards IoT specification. 96boards are a set of open and freely available specifications for the creation of processor independent development platforms. (See more about 96boards after this link.)
The 6cm x 3cm Ivy6551 is built around the Unisoc UWP5661. This remarkable system-on-chip is fabricated with a 28nm photolithography process. Some features include support for both 802.11ac (AKA Wi-Fi 5) and 802.11 a/b/g/n and Bluetooth 5 (No modern IoT solution is complete with Bluetooth). The UWP5661 sports dual embedded Arm Cortex-M4 CPUs with one of them clocks along at 416MHz and the second runs at 256MHz.
Below is a list of notable hardware specifications:
- UniSoC UWP5661@28nm system-on-chip with Duel Arm Cortex-M4 CPUs: one running at 416MHz, the other at 256MHz
- 32Mbit of storage (NOR Flash)
- Wi-Fi IEEE 802.11ac 2×2 MIMO (support for repeater mode and RTT indoor positioning)
- Bluetooth 5 (support for high power mode, low-power mode, direction finding, and mesh networking)
- 2x Micro USB ports (one of these is used to power the board)
- Expansion interface with a UART, I2C/SPI/I2S buses and 14 GPIO pins
- 4 user controllable LEDs
- 2 physical buttons, 1Reset and 1 user programmable button
- JTAG and SWD development support
A more comprehensive list of specifications can be found on the hardware manual webpage.
The board is designed to run the Zephyr RTOS, a Linux-based open source operating system intended for uses in what the Zephyr Project terms, “resource-constrained” devices.
The Ivy5661 is available right now from 96boards.com and Seeed Studio for $35. Other 802.11ac development boards surely exist but you may be hard pressed to find something as small and inexpensive as the Ivy6551.