New Qualcomm Ultra-Low-Power Chipset Designed for IoT Apps

Qualcomm Technologies has released a new low-power modem chipset designed specifically to address the unique demands of a growing number of IoT applications.

The 212 LTE IoT Modem is a power-efficient, single-mode, narrow-band (NB-IoT) chipset with a form factor smaller than a dime, and the ability to support a wide range of batteries and longer life spans of devices in the field.

The compact single-chip solution comprises a modem baseband, application processor, memory, RF transceiver with fully integrated RF front end, and power management units, all within a module smaller than 100 square millimeters.

The 212 LTE IoT Modem requires less than one micro-amp (1uA) of sleep current. It couples ultra-low system-level cut-off voltage with provisions for adapting power usage according to varying source power levels, which allows end devices with power supply levels as low as 2.2 volts. The chipset supports single-mode 3GPP Release 14 Cat. NB2 IoT connectivity, anticipated to enable extended coverage for delay-tolerant applications on RF frequency bands from 700MHz to 2.1GHz for global roaming.

"The Qualcomm 212 LTE IoT Modem will help usher in a new era for a range of IoT applications around the globe," said Qualcomm's Vieri Vanghi, VP of Qualcomm's product management group in Europe, in a statement, "especially those requiring connectivity deep within buildings combined with low power use, like battery-powered IoT devices that need to operate for 15 years or longer in the field."

The integrated ARM Cortex M3 application processor and the native set of IoT data networking protocols mean the 212 LTE IoT Modem can enable embedded IoT applications. Qualcomm is also launching an SDK for use with the modem, which is designed to support developers building custom software to run on the integrated applications processor. The company expects to offer pre-integrated support for cloud platforms such as the Microsoft Azure IoT SDK.

"The expansion of low-power wide-area networks around the world is opening the door to massive IoT use cases and applications that weren't possible or practical before," said Cameron Coursey, VP of AT&T's advanced solutions group, in a statement. "We're aiming to make that easier for our customers through access to the world's largest NB-IoT footprint and through a leading-edge modem and chipset portfolio. The Qualcomm 212 LTE IoT Modem will help unlock new possibilities for enterprises on NB-IoT networks through efficiencies in cost, power usage and form factor. We look forward to validating the chipset for the AT&T network."

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at