Orca Systems partnered with Totum Labs to develop a highly integrated wireless SoC to deliver satellite IoT connectivity over Totum’s LEO network.
Orca Systems, a fabless semiconductor company, has claimed the first wireless system-on-chip (SoC) solution for direct-to-satellite internet of things (IoT). The ORC3990 wireless SoC was developed to enable direct-to-satellite IoT connectivity over Totum’s low Earth orbit (LEO) network.
Orca Systems was founded in 2004 as a digital RF intellectual property (IP) and semiconductor design engineering services provider, and transitioned to a fabless semiconductor business model in 2018. The ORC3990 design, based on the company’s RF, analog, digital transceiver, and power management domain assets and expertise, is the company’s first product launch.
“LEO satellites are going to be very compelling for network-based IoT services and very cost effective,” said Brian Sprague, Orca’s chief operating officer. “They can determine location for free, so no GPS device is needed. It’s a worldwide network and can track anything anywhere in the world.”
With the advantage of providing connectivity anywhere, the race for satellite IoT connectivity for everything from shipping container and pallet tracking to livestock tracking and smart agriculture, is starting to heat up but it requires meeting challenges around power consumption, price, and size.
Orca Systems believes it has addressed these challenges with the ORCA3990 wireless SoC designed for Totum’s LEO network. Totum’s initial network consists of 18 6U cubesat satellites, each about the size of a breadbox.
The SoC integrates all required system functions for satellite IoT connectivity in a small 68-QFN package. For simple “tracker-on-a-chip” applications, a sub-$10 endpoint solution is possible based on the ORC3990 SoC, according to Totum, which is a cost point expected to drive high-volume demand. It also can operate with a couple of AA batteries for up to 10 years.
A key building block of the SoC design includes Orca Systems’ third-generation Live Wireless RF and digital radio subsystem, customized to support the requirements of Totum’s LEO satellite network. This building block can be customized for any customer’s application.
Other integrated function blocks include a low noise amplifier (LNA), a digital power amplifier (PA), the Totum satellite modem, powder management unit (PMU) subsystem including all analog blocks, dual Arm Cortex-M0+ CPUs for separate network and application processing. It also includes all necessary memory (volatile and non-volatile) for the on-chip CPUs, security functions, and analog and digital peripherals.
In addition, the SoC’s on-chip sensor provides the temperature of an ORC3990-based IoT endpoint. The device also supports a suite of digital and analog interfaces that allows it to connect to a variety of sensors such as temperature, humidity, shock, vibration, and flow.
Orca can customize the front end, baseband modem, the RF receiver and transmitter, LNA, and digital PA to meet customer specifications.