Posted by Babar Hashim, August 12, 2020
Frequently Asked Questions for SX-NEWAH - Industry's First 802.11ah Wi-Fi Module
Does Silex support any other evaluation platforms for SX-NEWAH other than Raspberry Pi?
Currently, we're supporting the Raspberry Pi platform. We can certainly enable and provide source code for the SPI driver for the radio module. We have already ported it to a number of platforms, most notably, the I.MX 6 ULL platform, so we already have a port that takes us into the NXP's I.MX based platforms family.
We’re more than happy to provide the source code to allow customers to integrate and do the porting to their own BSP’s. If this is something are not comfortable with, or that you don't have the resources to support, Silex can do that port for you. For more information, please talk to the support staff managing your account, and they can tell you how we can enable that.
Is there any additional OS support for the SX-NEWAH radio?
Currently, not directly. We're focusing on Linux. One of the services features that Silex has provided for a number of years is the ability to move drivers onto a number of RTOS’s and even potentially support an OS like Windows. We have done some work with Windows, but rather than doing a driver port, we've come up with an alternative approach which we can share if you have an application that needs Windows support for the product. But for other RTOS’s, we see very little reason for why this cannot move down, and can support that work as well. Let us know what you need, and what you're working for, and we can discuss how that can be enabled.
Do I need a separate SPI driver?
The module is a SPI slave device. For example, you will need sample code for the Raspberry Pi, the SPI driver, and SPI master driver, which is the only real challenging part of doing a port to other devices. Right now, we have support for the I.MX series as well as the Raspberry Pi, but that's the one area you need to concern yourself with if you're moving to other architectures.
Is Wi-Fi mesh currently supported on the SX-NEWAH?
Currently, the software that we've released does not support mesh. Mesh is on the roadmap and is an important network topology for the radio. We are working with Newracom to get that enabled, and expect that mesh is one of a number of technology enhancements that will appear over the next 12 to 24 months. This first deployment of the technology is very much a beachhead implementation to provide customers with the core functionality of the device. You expect to see new features and updates coming on thick and fast over the next couple of years.
Does the SX-NEWAH module support both client and AP modes?
Our current release supports either client or AP mode. It does not support a concurrent mode.
Will Silex support antenna diversity in the future on these 802.11ah modules?
No, that's not currently on the plan roadmap.
Is it (SX-NEWAH) compatible with existing Wi-Fi infrastructure with different frequency band?
Yes - exactly what we mean. You mentioned no Gateway is needed
Does Silex have any plans for the use of their SX-NEWAH module in other countries in addition to US and Canada?
Reach outside of North America is important to us. A number of factors have defined the current path. The use and availability of the sub-GHz RF band is by far more developed in North America than other parts of the world, however; we believe that the North America was the most likely location to first get their hands on and understand the value of 802.11ah.
There are opportunities around the world that show the sub-GHz RF band is a long way from being unified, and are nowhere close to the 2.4 and 5 GHz band, so there are some challenges in addressing the rest of the world, both in terms of module configuration, and use of the sub-GHz band around the world.
A number of locations put duty cycle limits on RF access, which obviously impacts the available throughput for the devices, and therefore does impact some of the compelling features that 802.11ah brings to the market. There are a number of changes going on around the world. Certainly we will review other countries, including Japan and Europe, and we will have a worldwide plan that will be roll out over the next couple of years. It will be driven in principle by the acceptance and need for 802.11ah technology, and potentially some of the regulatory updates that we're expecting.
Does Silex have technical representatives in Canada that can help us with the integration of Silex’s SX-NEWAH modules into our devices?
Yes, our Silex Technology location supports North America and we also have offices in Europe, so please just e-mail email@example.com, and we can support you with that.
Can we contact Silex for further enablement on NXP and I.MX?
Absolutely! We are an NXP partner and have services and support we can integrate onto a number of platforms. So, again, please contact us to set up a discussion.
How many clients can the radio support in AP Mode?
The module can support 699 connections concurrently.
Silex is developing a 802.11ah Access Point. Will the AP unit be available as an unbranded white box?
The product is what we call Silex Showcase product. This means that there are opportunities for OEMs to customize it. Not only white box, but also internal electronics. Basically, any fundamental block inside the product can be available for either white boxing or direct customization. Silex does provide the ability to support customization for OEMs, including enclosure changes, core electronic updates, additions, changes to interfaces, as well as software modifications.
What is the estimated release date of the Access Point Gateway?
The target to the get the product out and on our channels is the second week of January 2021, and we currently have plans to have some early release engineering evaluation product available sooner than that. We are open to discussions with interested OEMs to become lead customers for 802.11ah technology so that they can help us make sure that the market deliverable is appropriate. If you have an application or idea that you believe could contribute to the Access Point or Bridge product, please reach out and we'd love to have discussions about it.
What is the estimate cost of the access point and bridge devices?
Please contact our sales representatives at firstname.lastname@example.org to get some initial pre-release pricing and enablement options.
Is there support for anything other than Linux? How portable is the driver stack to other RTOS's?
Currently only Linux drivers are available. Porting to other operating systems is not overly complex. However specific knowledge of the target processors SPI interface is critical. Silex can support porting to alternate OS’s through our engineering services team, alternately it is possible to provide driver source code, under license, if you are interested in porting yourself.
Does the SX-NEWAH support 802.11ah TWT (Target Wake Time) or other Low Power Save Modes?
The current firmware has not been enabled to support these functions yet. We are working hard to bring these to the device over the next 12-24 months, as one of a number of planned updates.
Are there any restrictions on using the SX-NEWAH-EVK in Europe?
Currently the device and Evaluation Kit are not certified for sale in the EU countries. It is possible to evaluate the technology within Europe, please contact Silex about enabling this for you.
Any driver for Zephyr, Free RTOS Operating Systems?
Unfortunately, neither of these RTOS’s are currently supported.
If I don't have an SPI interface, is there any chance I could use the module with a USB<-->SPI converter? For example, FTDI FT2232H?
Silex has not validated this approach. Technically it would be feasible, but we cannot confirm this will work.
It is mentioned that HaLow can support, Star, Mesh or route. Any performance data (Latency, max # of hops, etc) on the Mesh setup?
All performance data has been collected from networks using the star configuration. Mesh and Router networks have not been characterized yet as they have not been released. They will be introduced in a later driver release and characterization data will be available then.
How about the regulatory stuff about the European Sub Giga Band, especially the duty cycle on the 868 MHZ? What does that mean for the throughput?
As mentioned earlier, one of the challenges for release of product to the European market is the impact of the regulatory restrictions on the performance and features of the HaLow technology. Silex has several customers evaluating introduction of HaLow solutions to Europe, as of today none have committed to release.
J3 was mentioned as a power option for VDDFEM - does this mean leaving it open will provide it a 4V source, or do we need to supply an external 4V source to test higher power outputs?
There are 3 pins on J3, connecting pins 1-2 will use 3.3V and using pins 2-3 will use 4V.
The Wi-Fi HaLow specifications state that the technology "can do up to 30dBm". How is this done if the FEM is limited to 4V?
The chipset/FEM will support this, but the FCC limit for the module is 23 dBm in the current module design.
Have you done any tests with directional antennas?
Silex has not done directional antenna testing. All tests were performed using Omni-directional antenna.
How did you test 699 associations? What about throughput sharing amongst those? i.e. how efficient is the MAC with that many clients contending?
Silex has only tested up to 30 clients. The aggregate throughput is limited by the speed of the SPI bus.
Do you support i2c or SPI?
SPI is the supported host interface.
Is roaming between Access Points supported? If so, how fast does re-association occur?
Yes it does support roaming, but we have never tested it. It is all controlled via the supplicant.
What is the battery consumption with various data rate and range?
Internal testing for our lead application we have seen the below numbers :
|1 MHz - CH43|
Avg DC Power
Max DC Power
Avg DC Power
Max DC Power
Have you done any analysis using device on battery power supply?
We have not done any analysis using this with a battery supply. Many of the lead applications our initial customers are looking to use this in are battery operated. We are going to introduce power save modes in our next firmware release which is going to vastly improve the battery operation performance.
What is the sleep current for a station?
The initial release does not support sleep modes. Look forward to our next release soon.
If you have any questions or would like to schedule a meeting to discuss your application please contact email@example.com.