NXP's MCX W Series Offers Thread, Zigbee, and BLE Support — with New Bluetooth Channel Sounding

Delivering a single-antenna solution to Bluetooth distance finding, the NXP MCX W72x range lands in the second half of this year.

NXP Semiconductors has announced the latest entry in its MCX microcontroller family, with the new MCX W range being its first to offer Bluetooth Channel Sounding capabilities — along with Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and IEEE 802.15.4, Thread, Zigbee, and Matter support.

"The future of smart connected devices is evolving faster than ever before, with new features and capabilities introduced regularly," says NXP's Charles Dachs in support of the company's latest wireless microcontroller designs. "The MCX W series enriches the overall MCX portfolio, making it easier for developers to bring advanced connectivity to their designs and enabling new innovations to be deployed to the next generation of IoT [Internet of Things] and industrial devices."

Following the earlier MCX A and MCX N parts, the MCX W family is built around an Arm Cortex-M33F microcontroller core running at up to 96MHz with 128kB of static RAM (SRAM) and 1MB of program flash or 256kB of SRAM and 2MB of flash depending on model, both of which support error correction code (ECC). The radio subsystem includes Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and IEEE 802.15.4 capabilities — and comes with either a dedicated Arm Cortex-M3 or Cortex-M33 core, again model-dependent.

The MCX W71x models sit at the entry point to the new microcontroller family, targeting what NXP calls "simpler IoT devices" as a single chip or as a coprocessor in more complex devices. The MCX W72x parts, meanwhile, offer the higher memory capacities, the ability to run the full Thread or Zigbee IEEE 802.15.4 radio stacks on-device, and support for Bluetooth Channel Sounding — an alternative to angle of arrival and angle of departure (AoA and AoD) for Bluetooth-powered direction-finding, using phase-based ranging (PBR) to determine the distance between odes and accelerated using an on-board Localization Compute Engine block.

Both the W71x and W72x families include a 16-bit successive-approximation analog-to-digital converter (ADC), two high-speed analog comparators and an eight-bit digital-to-analog converter (DAC), two each of low-power UART, SPI, and I2C buses, plus a MIPI-I2C module, optional CAN and CAN FD buses, a programmable FlexIO module, and 29 general-purpose input/output (GPIO) pins.

NXP has confirmed plans to begin sampling the parts in the second half of this year, with pricing yet to be announced; more information is available on the MCX W71x and MCX W72x product pages.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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