Today at Computex in Taiwan, Rockchip announced a ultra-low-power WiFi SoC for IoT devices. The RKi6000 promises huge jumps in power efficiency, and the ability to provide WiFi connectivity at the levels of Bluetooth Low-Energy. The RKi6000 is a 802.11b WiFi combo-chip with up to 11Mbps data transfer rates. Rockchip explains that it achieves such drastic improvements in low power in the following ways:

- Improvements in wireless communication and radio-frequency architecture:  Rockchip’s patented technology greatly reduces an IoT smart device’s power consumption by receiving and transmitting data continuously, enabling devices to achieve ultra-low power consumption while in standby and in use. 
- Adaptive Dynamic Power Control Technology:   improves power efficiency in different working modes, greatly reducing all-over power consumption in different application scenarios and adjusting the chip’s power configuration according to data transmission requirements and actual transmission quality, achieving the best energy efficiency ratio. 
- Technological innovation - connects to Wi-Fi without waking up the main-control processor:   for IoT applications requiring long standby times while remaining online, the Rockchip RKi6000 maintains its Wi-FI connection without waking up the main-control processor, simplifying the power consumption system’s design and extending battery life.   
Comparing the RXi6000 to other competing solutions from Broadcom, Qualcomm, Texas Instruments or Gainspan shows significant reduction in Rx power, with up to 3 times less power than the next-best WiFi solution.

While Rockchip has a clear advantage in power over other LP WiFi chipsets, it's the comparison with other low-power transmission technologies that Rockchip is able to show its true strength:

When comparing the RKi6000 running WiFi 802.11b at 11Mbps, the chipset is able to present an order of magnitude of improvement over other technologies such as Bluetooth with Enhanced Data Rate, Bluetooth LE or Zigbee. The fact that this is a WiFi technology simplifies deployment and development of IoT application as it is able to use connections provided by standard infrastructures.  Applicable product categories include wearables, home appliances, home automation and safety. The RKi6000 starts availability in Q3 2015.

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  • Daniel Egger - Wednesday, June 3, 2015 - link

    Yes it does. Simply allowing 11b devices on the network completely kills the performance of the whole network with the only solution being using 5GHz for anything more serious (which seems like a good idea anyway...)
  • fteoath64 - Thursday, June 4, 2015 - link

    802.11b is NOT slow. G is slow since it skips frequencies and speeds too often resulting in overhead rather than throughput. b is resilient and reliable!.
  • zodiacfml - Friday, June 5, 2015 - link

    Yes and No. It will slow your network at 2.4 Ghz if the IoT device would like to saturate the signal. Yet, it won't slow the network if you majority of your devices are at 5Ghz.
  • jjj - Tuesday, June 2, 2015 - link

    No noise on wifi ad at Computex? Haven't spotted anything on the subject ,thought we'll get some of that this year.
  • hirschma - Tuesday, June 2, 2015 - link

    Sadly, Rockchip is impossible to deal with. Just try and get a data sheet out of them. Or a sample. Or, frankly, try to buy the chip in anything less than huge quantities. Impossible. Or try to prototype with it - also, sadly, impossible.

    TI, on the other hand, will send you samples for free, and has launchpad boards ready to go for starting a design for very reasonable cost, with full documentation and tools. TI is a wonderful company, and they'll keep on getting design wins just for that reason.
  • toyotabedzrock - Tuesday, June 2, 2015 - link

    I have a feeling this chip would not do well in a modern overused 2.4 network.
  • kruppin - Wednesday, June 3, 2015 - link

    With such small power consumption I guess it wont have very good range, being wifi? Because using an "amp" which draws power kind of defeats the purpose. Other techniques maybe arent that fast but instead usually have ok range.
  • Daniel Egger - Wednesday, June 3, 2015 - link

    WTF? Have they completely lost their mind? Sane operators and users nowadays turn off 11b compatibility unless they absolutely need to support vastly outdated legacy devices.

    Basically all of the claims are pretty much bogus: With only 20mW output the range will really bad; worse than any of the other standards at the same power level. Also 11Mbps is best case, all other standards reach their maximum performance pretty much all the time. And then there's also the issue of net performance: In IoT devices most of the data sent is going to be small telegrams rather than a stream of big chunks, funny enough even an 11 MBps 11b connection would transmit a plethora of those telegrams over UDP slower than any of the other mentioned protocols due to the horrific overhead and retransmits.
  • optix_delite - Sunday, June 7, 2015 - link

    802.11b is on its way out. Already disallowed on many networks, it's only a matter of time before it disappears, like this chip
  • Nick_Lowe - Tuesday, June 23, 2015 - link

    This, absolutely. See:

    We are likely to see the 802.11b data rates being disabled by default going forward.

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