Particle Announces M-Series "Multi-Radio" SoMs, Muon Dev Board, with LoRaWAN, Satellite

Muon boards offer Wi-Fi, cellular, LoRaWAN, and optional satellite connectivity, the company says — with pricing starting at just $49.

Internet of Things (IoT) specialist Particle has announced the launch of its M-Series, offering — for the first time in the company's history — multi-radio connectivity with support for Wi-Fi, cellular, LoRaWAN, and even satellite communications on a single device.

"The more 'industrial' our customers become, the further afield we find we need to provide connectivity," explains Particle's founder and chief executive officer Zach Supalla of the background to its new M-Series parts. "There are other wireless technologies available. There are satellite networks that can reach far away places — but they don’t work indoors. There are sub-GHz networks like LoRaWAN that can penetrate deeper into buildings, but they only work where gateways have been connected. No one radio can exceed 85%. Well, how about all the radios? That, my friends, we can do."

Where Particle's previous development boards and systems-on-modules (SoMs) have concentrated on a single radio type, offering either Wi-Fi or cellular support, the M-Series marks the company's first products to offer multi-radio connectivity covering four different networks: Wi-Fi, cellular, LoRaWAN over LoRa, and satellite networking — also known as non-terrestrial networking (NTN).

Initially, the company has announced three systems-on-modules to open the M-Series (M-SoMs), built in partnership with Qualcomm and Quectel: the M404, which offers LTE-M with 2G fallback cellular plus dual-band Wi-Fi; the M524, which has LTE Cat. 1 with 3G/2G fallback and dual-band Wi-Fi; and the M635, which has LTE-M with 2G fallback, dual-band Wi-Fi, and satellite connectivity via a partnership with non-terrestrial network specialist Skylo. All models include a single-core Arm Corex-M33 microcontroller running at up to 200MHz, 4.5MB of RAM, and 16MB of flash storage.

For those looking for a quick-start, Particle is also launching the Muon — a development board that pairs an M-SoM with a carrier board offering general-purpose input/output (GPIO) connectivity on a dual-female-header expansion card connector, a Qwiic connector, and power management including lithium-polymer battery handling and USB Type-C with Power Delivery (PD) capabilities.

"The Expansion Card interface is great for prototyping with jumper cables," Supalla notes, "but we're most excited about the creation of an open standard like Raspberry Pi HATs and Arduino shields for sensors, actuators, displays, and other accessories. We’ll be making our own expansion cards, as well as partnering with others to build out the expansion card ecosystem. And you can of course design your own; we expect that many of our customers will be able to ship reliable and robust products to market by using the Muon and a custom expansion card."

The Muon board also adds the fourth radio type in the mix: LoRa, with Particle partnering with Helium, The Things Industries, and Comcast's MachineQ to offer LoRaWAN connectivity. In addition to serving as a ready-to-use development board, Particle has confirmed that the Muon will also act as a reference design — making it easy for developers to build their own boards to host M-Series SoMs.

Finally, Particle has announced that the Monitor One — the industrial gateway platform it unveiled in October last year — will be upgraded to support the Muon. "A customer can buy a Muon," Supalla promises, "grab the right expansion card, put it in an enclosure, and ship to customers."

More information on the M-Series M-SoMs and Muon board are available on the Particle website, where Muon pre-orders have opened starting at $49; the Wi-Fi, cellular, and LoRaWAN model is due to ship in the second quarter, Particle says, with the expanded satellite-capable version launching in the third quarter.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire:
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