Wireless Applications

Alliance Develops Smart Objects Protocol Stack

October 15, 2008

Atmel, Cisco, and the Swedish Institute of Computer Science have created a small-footprint, open-source, IPv6-ready implementation that will enable every device, no matter how limited its power or memory, to have an Internet Protocol address.


SAN JOSE, CA and BANGALORE, India /PRNewswire/ -- Atmel Corp., Cisco, and the Swedish Institute of Computer Science (SICS) announced the availability of uIPv6, one of the world's smallest open-source, IPv6-ready protocol stacks, which could enable every device, no matter how small it is limited by power or memory, to have an Internet Protocol address.

This collaborative project builds on Cisco's expertise in IP networking, Atmel's innovative low-power wireless hardware, and SICS' knowledge of embedded operating systems design. "uIPv6 has the potential to impact a wide range of market verticals where automation is key, just as voice over IP did in enterprise telephony," said Rob Adams, Senior Director of Cisco's Corporate Development technology group.

"Smart" objects powered by a wide range of sensors and actuators are poised to enable a wide range of next-generation applications in building automation, industrial monitoring, smart cities, and energy management, among many other areas. These applications help transmit information in the physical world about conditions or the environment (e.g., temperature, light, motion, and health status) to locations where the information can be analyzed, correlated with other data, and acted upon.

The proliferation of such applications has, however, been held back by the large number of proprietary or semi-closed systems and the cost associated with translating information before it can be effectively shared with other devices and systems. The use of IP as networking technology has long been recognized as the solution to this interoperability issue. Now, thanks to unique lower-layer energy-management mechanisms and limited memory capacity, uIPv6 is highly power-efficient and ideal for most constrained devices.

Open-source uIPv6 includes standard IP applications and can be easily customized for specific requirements. It is integrated in the Contiki operating system developed by SICS, which provides all the necessary functionalities for networked smart objects. In addition, uIPv6's small footprint and memory usage allows it to run on the most constrained platforms. In particular, it was tested on Atmel's Raven wireless platform, chosen for its outstanding low-power performance.

"Efficient, low-power wireless systems require ultra-low-power embedded microcontrollers paired with excellent radio performance," said Magnus Pedersen, Atmel's Director of Product Marketing, MCU Wireless Solutions. "The fact that Cisco and SICS chose the Atmel AVR Raven picoPower wireless platform as the basis for their uIPv6 and 6LoWPAN implementation confirms Atmel's leading edge in low-power embedded wireless technology."

uIPv6 is released under a permissive open-source license and, as a result, can be used for both commercial and noncommercial applications.

"An open-source, standard-compliant, small-footprint IPv6 implementation is essential to enable the next generation of sensor network applications," said Adam Dunkels, Senior Scientist at SICS and Contiki project leader.

Patrick Wetterwald, President of the IP for Smart Objects Alliance, said, "By running an IPv6 stack, operating a network of sensors thus becomes as easy as operating a network of PCs, IP phones, or any other IP devices."

The new uIPv6 stack requires only 0.5 KB of SRAM for data structures, a minimum of 1.3 KB of SRAM for buffering, and 11 KB of Flash for the code. The Raven platform embeds a microcontroller and a wireless chip using the 802.15.4 standard, designed specifically to accommodate smart objects' requirements. uIPv6 includes an implementation of the 6LoWPAN standard, the adaptation layer between 802.15.4 and IPv6.


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