More embedded systems are requiring internet connectivity today than ever before. A number of these systems are looking to connect to the internet through wireless solutions rather than through Ethernet for added flexibility and mobility. Integrating Wi-Fi connectivity into embedded systems is often complicated and requires developers to get support from many disparate vendors such as MCU suppliers, Wi-Fi chipset or module makers, software protocol providers, and even development tool vendors. In this post, we are going to explore the new Renesas Synergy Platform Wi-Fi framework that removes these complications and allows developers more time to innovate and differentiate their end-products rather than worrying about the underlying Wi-Fi connectivity details.
The Wi-Fi framework is an SSP add-on module that provides developers with a hardware abstraction layer and uniform APIs for common Wi-Fi functions such as scanning for networks, creating and establishing a wireless connection, data transmission and reception and MAC address management to name a few. The Wi-Fi Framework removes the burden from developers who need to integrate Wi-Fi connectivity in their embedded systems and it shortens their time-to-market. A common framework also enables developers to easily swap Wi-Fi chipsets or modules from various suppliers to stay current with market needs and supply situations without having to go through a major redesign.
An example for how the Wi-Fi Framework may be used in an application can be found below. In this example, the application accesses the internet through the NetX component which is using the Wi-Fi Framework. Developers can use NetX just like they normally would except now there is an option to use the Wi-Fi Framework. In the application initialization code, developers will only need to access the Wi-Fi framework to configure the framework through the provisioningSet() API call which acts like an open() call.
The Wi-Fi Framework can be configured to build applications with either on-host (on MCU) or on-chip (on Wi-Fi module) wireless stacks. First, for modules that require an external (on-host) stack, developers can use Wi-Fi framework with NetX. The picture above shows this mode. Second, if a module already has a built-in Wi-Fi stack, developers can simply use the 'On-chip Stack APIs' already built into the Wi-Fi Framework to control the device. The Wi-Fi framework includes support for the Longsys GT202 module (using the QCA4002 chipset) drivers which is a great example on how to create drivers for additional Wi-Fi modules. The Wi-Fi Framework API provides developers with the flexibility to use any Wi-Fi module with the Synergy Platform.
Application developers will find that the Wi-Fi Framework is easily configurable, just like any other Synergy Framework, by using the Synergy Configurator. A typical Wi-Fi thread stack can be found below. It includes accessing the sf_wifi_nsal_nx module which is now an option through the NetX component. The sf_wifi_gt202 module contains useful configuration options such as whether or not to use the on-chip stack, which hardware mode will be used (b, g, n) and a plethora of other options.
The Wi-Fi Framework enables quick application integration for low-level device drivers from various Wi-Fi chipset and module vendors while keeping the application APIs the same. Each Wi-Fi module is supported through a porting layer that acts like a wrapper for the device drivers and makes them compatible with the Wi-Fi Framework. The porting layer allow developers, Wi-Fi module vendors and IDH’s to add support for any Wi-Fi module by simply adding the porting layer to their own Wi-Fi module drivers. This flexibility can dramatically save cost, time and effort when integrating a new Wi-Fi module into a product line or if a quick pivot is required due to an issue with a supplier.
In the next several months, many more Wi-Fi chipsets and modules will become available for use with the Synergy Platform. In the mean-time, check out the Wi-Fi Framework add-on which can be downloaded from the Synergy Gallery under the SSP Utilities.
Until next time,
Live long and profit!
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