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03-26-2017 08:36 PM
After much reading I come to realize that you still need a toolchain to compile C code for a EFR32 wireless SOC (Mighty Gecko). The documentation which seems to be a year or so old only mentions IAR as being integrated with SS4. I'm not looking to spend $2500 for EWARM. Will Rowley's CrossWorks work with SS4? If not, is there any alternative to IAR?
03-27-2017 08:28 AM
Toolchain support varies per the stack, so the answer depends on which stack will be used for the project. If it is the Flex stack (which is a combination of the Connect and RAIL stacks used mainly for proprietary wireless protocols) than the gcc compiler is supported. If it is a Bluetooth application, gcc support is available in beta form at the present time. If it is a Zigbee / Mesh application than the IAR compiler (and license from IAR) is required.
03-27-2017 04:07 PM
Thanks for the clarification. I was intending to use Zigbee so your answer is disappointing. However, my application can use a star topology, which Connect/RAIL supports. So I could use that with gcc as the toolchain.
Sorry that I’m a little confused regarding Geckos and radio boards. Could I buy the SLWSTK6000B Mighty Gecko kit and simply use the Connect/RAIL stacks with those wireless boards and radio cards. Or do I need to buy the SLWSTK6060A Flex kit in order to use the Connect/RAIL stack? That kit only comes with one main board (is it the same main board as in the 6000B?). Are Flex radio boards needed to use Connect/RAIL? Would I need to use those radio boards with Mighty Gecko? The 6000B would give me three nodes to develop the star network using Connect/RAIL with SS4 using gcc. Would that work, please clarify?
03-28-2017 02:55 PM
Having looked over more documentation I think I am able to answer my own questions. Please comment on my understanding as follows.
The intelligence is in the radio boards which contain an EFR32 chip. The different names and part numbers determine the type of technology that can be used. Mighty Gecko is for Zigbee, Blue Gecko for Bluetooth, and Flex Gecko for proprietary. There is no mix and match. The parts only execute the technology as stated. You can’t run Connect/RAIL on a Mighty Gecko radio board. I believe the wireless starter kit main boards containing the LCD, switches, etc that come with the development kits are all the same. They can accept any radio board.
The Mighty Gecko kit (6000B) contains 3 boards and 3 radio cards and costs $500. The Flex Gecko kit (6060A) contains 2 boards (not 1 as I mentioned in the previous post) and 2 radio boards and costs $275. So if you buy 2 6060A kits you will get 4 nodes for $550. The Flex radio boards will run the Connect/RAIL stack, where you can use IAR or gcc within SS4. The Mighty Gecko boards run Zigbee stack and require IAR. The Blue Gecko boards run Bluetooth and use IAR or gcc in beta release.
Is the above accurate?
03-28-2017 03:58 PM - edited 03-28-2017 03:59 PM
The RAIL stack is a low level abstraction of the radio interface meant to hide the details of the individual radios on the various devices. So the RAIL stack can be used with any device. The Connect stack is a little higher abstraction for the network topologies you mentioned and it can be used with the different EFR32BG, EFR32FG and EFR32MG families as well as the EZR32 products. Actually the RAIL and Connect stacks are combined into the Flex stack.
The Zigbee and Bluetooth stacks have some support across the different families as well but it isn't universal. The latest products Silicon Labs has announced support multiple protocols, e.g. BLE and Zigbee: http://www.silabs.com/products/wireless/wireless-gecko-iot-connectivity-portfolio
03-30-2017 07:28 AM
The Flex Gecko products are designed to support proprietary wireless protocols. To quote the Silicon Labs website: "The Flex Gecko family of wireless solutions combines an energy-friendly MCU with a highly integrated radio transceiver supporting 2.4 GHz and Sub-GHz proprietary wireless protocols. Flex Gecko SoCs are ideal for proprietary modulation schemes including GFSK, OQPSK, DSSS, and FEC." So the radios inside the Flex Geckos are unique for that market. Since the protocols used with the chips aren't following an established standard the software stack to support the chip provides simple abstraction of the underlying radio registers and functionality, etc. (RAIL) and of the various network topologies (Connect). So the same stacks could be used with the chips that support standard protocols like BLE and Zigbee / Thread, but the stacks that support those protocols provide functionality at a higher level that incorporate the lower level functionality.
03-30-2017 09:43 AM
So the Flex Gecko supports modulation schemes that the Mighty Gecko and the Blue Gecko do not? Or will any configuration that is supported by RAIL on a FG also work on MG and BG? Or is there only a subset that is supported on all of them?
And the other way around, can the Flex Gecko run Bluetooth, Zigbee or Thread?
Or on the Blue Gecko which can run Bluetooth, can it also run a proprietary protocol using RAIL?
The fact that the Mighty Gecko is announced as meant for Zigbee and Thread but seems to do Bluetooth as well (as the Thunderboard Sense proves) adds to the confusion.
03-30-2017 10:29 AM
The wireless selection guide will answer most of the questions you have: http://www.silabs.com/documents/public/brochures/wireless-selector-guide.pdf
There is some overlap in device functionality, as there are some BG devices that support both Bluetooth and Proprietary protocols, and some MG devices that support Zigbee, Thread, Bluetooth and Proprietary protocols. None of the FG parts support the Bluetooth or Zigbee / Thread protocols. The design choice of which wireless part to use will come down to the required features for the product versus the cost of the device. Supporting the different protocols in a product does involve other hardware design requirements, like the antenna design for example. I am a software engineer, so I don't claim to know all of the hardware differences necessary to support the various protocols.
Please read through the wireless selector guide and if you have further questions about which part to use, either contact a Silicon Labs distributor or sales representative or post a question on one of the Wireless forums.
03-30-2017 11:29 AM - edited 03-30-2017 11:35 AM
It finally dawned on me that there are some Mighty Gecko and some Blue Gecko devices that also support a proprietary protocol through RAIL. And only those Mighty Geckos also support Bluetooth. The others only support their designated protocol(s).
So the RAIL stack can be used with any device.
My conclusion is that RAIL cannot be used with any device, but each family has devices that can use RAIL.