Chris Bauman, Atmel Corp.
Jun 16, 2006 (2:00 PM), ComssDesign
For the embedded developers looking to add connectivity to their designs, selecting the right solution is critical to success. But it is particularly important in the case of ZigBee or any other 802.15.4 wireless application, where integrating the various hardware and software layers can be daunting, especially for engineers and developers who are not experts in RF communication.
It requires giving careful thought to a number of issues beyond the specifics of the protocols, such as: 1) What type of network topology best fits the application; 2) the best 802.15.4 radio frequency for the application; 3) the sensitivity of the vendor's 802.15.4 radio; 4) the completeness and architecture of the media access controller (MAC); 5) the most appropriate multitasking framework; 5) power consumption; 6) cost; and 7) the quality of support for the application framework and profiles for the application at hand.
In making decisions regarding these issues, though, it is important to remember that the ZigBee standard is a superset of the 802.15.4 standard (Figure 1 below). In other words, a ZigBee-certified application must conform to both the ZigBee standard and the 802.15.4 standard, while an 802.15.4 application may or may not adhere to the ZigBee standard. The distinction is important because the ZigBee standard continues to evolve and some of the higher-level application layers have not yet been defined.
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