NXP is a semiconductor technology powerhouse that offers a wide variety of hardware for IoT, including microcontrollers and WiFi modules. These are used by both hobbyists and professional developers to prototype and build IoT devices.
They provide a similar range of IoT hardware as competitors such as Texas Instruments and Microchip. In this article, we’ll discuss some of the most popular NXP IoT WiFi modules, development boards, and IoT Rapid Prototyping Kits.
NXP IoT WiFi Modules
NXP WiFi modules can be divided into two categories:
- Modules that require a host
- Modules that have a host-less solution
For more details on the distinction between these two categories, please read our guide on how to choose the best WiFi module for IoT.
Host WiFi SoCs
The majority of these SoCs support both WiFi and Bluetooth chipsets to provide last mile wireless connectivity. These can be classified into different subcategories:
- WiFi 4 SoCs: These SoCs support IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n WiFi standards. The 88W8977 module offers both WiFi dual-band (2.4/5 GHz) and Bluetooth 5.0 with SDIO and UART interface options. The IW416 SoC provides both WiFi dual-band and Bluetooth 5.1 with many interface options like SDIO, USB, and UART. Whereas the 88W8801 supports only single-band WiFi with SDIO/USB interface option. All these SoCs require host MCUs such as the i.MX RT and come with RTOS driver support.
- WiFi 5 SoCs: The 88W8887 and 88W8987 modules offer 1×1 dual-band WiFi with SDIO and UART interface options. The former supports Bluetooth 4.2, and the latter offers Bluetooth 5.0. Whereas 88W8897 and 88W8997 deliver 2×2 dual-band WiFi plus Bluetooth with PCle and UART interface options. These SoCs require host MCUs such as i.MX or i.MX RT and come with RTOS/Linux/Android driver support.
- WiFi 6 SoC: The 88W9098 supports the latest generation of 2×2 CDW dual-band WiFi and Bluetooth 5.1 with PCle and UART interface options. It also requires a host MCU such as the i.MX or i.MX RT and comes with Linux/Android driver support.
Host-Less WiFi Modules
The go-to module of choice in this category for many hobbyists and developers is the 88MW32X. This has an integrated Arm Cortex-M4F application CPU and 802.11 b/g/n WiFi system.
The Arm Cortex-M4F processor operates up to 200 MHz and powers the application subsystem that supports integrated 512KB SRAM, 128KB ROM, and a QSPI interface to external flash.
The WiFi subsystem integrates a WLAN MAC, baseband, and direct-conversion RF radio with integrated LINA, PA, and transmit/receive switches. Further, it also integrates a dedicated CPU with integrated memory to run NXP WLAN firmware to offload many WLAN functions from the main application CPU.
The module also provides a wide variety of peripheral interfaces including SPI (3x), UART (3x), I2C (2x), timers, ADC, DAC, analog comparator, and GPIOs and thereby avoids the need for external chips. It also includes a hardware cryptographic engine, watchdog timer, and RTC.
NXP IoT Development Boards
NXP has a broad portfolio of MCUs across 8, 16, and 32-bit platforms. We’ve summarized some of the most popular models by performance categories:
The LPC800 Series are low-cost MCUs based on Arm Cortex-M0+ cores operating up to 30 MHz. They are space-efficient, low power, and low pin-count MCUs for basic microcontroller applications. They include distinct features such as NFC interface, switch matrix for configuration of each I/O pins, capacitive touch, and SCTime/PWM, providing great design flexibility. This series consists of many popular MCU families ranging from LPC 80x to LPC 84x.
The K32 L Series is built on the adoption of Kinetis MCUs and is designed to deliver low power performance, high integration, and optimized for low-leakage applications. These MCUs are based on the Arm Cortex-M4 and Cortex-M0+ architectures with MCUXpresso IDE support. They include features like SPI, I2C, ADC, RTC, DAC, analog comparator, PWM, UART, and timers.
The K32 L3 family is known for its energy efficiency and security with 384KB SRAM and up to 1.25MB flash. Whereas the K32 L2 is popular for its ultra-low-power and high integration performance with up to 512KB flash and 128KB RAM.
The LPC5500 Series is based on Arm’s latest Cortex-M33 technology that offers a good combination of security, performance, and scalability features. In terms of security, it provides SRAM PUF based root of trust and provisioning, and Arm TrustZone-M asset protection. It also supports integrated power management IC and dedicated co-processors for cryptographic acceleration and signal processing. They support many different communication interfaces along with MCUXpresso software and tools ecosystem.
The i.MX RT Crossover MCUs are the latest crossover MCU series that combines ease-of-use with high-performance processing, integration, and security for next-level IoT applications. It’s based on Arm Cortex-M technology that provides both a real-time system and an applications-processor-level of performance and integration.
It supports MIPI display controllers, graphics acceleration that takes advantage of the 2D pixel pipeline accelerator, and 2D GPU with vector graphics acceleration. This series can interface with various external memory types like serial/parallel NAND, NOR, RAM, and eMMC. It also supports audio, USB with PHY, Ethernet, and CAN.
NXP IoT Rapid Prototyping Kit
NXP IoT rapid prototyping kits provide an accelerated IoT design, sensor to cloud security, and comprehensive enablement to prototype an idea quickly.
The kit combines optimized hardware design including connectivity, processing, and security with software that comprises drivers, middleware, and GUI enabled programming. It can accelerate three phases of proof of concept development:
- Plug-and-play with pre-programmed applications
- Non-programmers can modify device parameters by using the GUI based programming on the web IDE
- MCUXpresso provides tools to validate and develop applications.
A popular model within this range is the SLN-RPK-NODE. It includes the application processor Kinetis-K64F Arm Cortex-M4 MCU and KW41Z Wireless MCU that offers BLE, Zigbee, and Thread.
It provides multiple sensor options that include gyroscope, accelerometer, barometer, temperature, air quality, and capacitive touch. Further, it is expandable to most IoT nodes with 400+ Click boards. The power management system includes NX5P3290UK (USB PD and type C current-limited power switch) and MC34671 (600 mA single-cell Li-Ion/Li-Polymer battery charger).
Security is provided by A1006 secure authentication and anti-counterfeit IC and NT3H2211-NFC forum type2 tag. It is extremely easy to use for rapid prototyping with Atmosphere web IDE to generate projects (without C coding) and source code for the MCUXpresso IDE. It also comes with RTOS, drivers, middleware, Android/iOS apps, and cloud connectivity.
Read Our Other Resources
We’ve published a range of IoT resources for our community, including:
- How to Choose the Best IoT WiFi Module and what to consider when making your choice
- A complete guide to ESP32 for IoT, which explains the different modules and development boards that run this WiFi chip
- How to set up an ESP8266 WiFi module using the Nabto server peer-to-peer connection.
- A complete Guide to Microcontrollers for IoT, which explains all your options when it comes to choosing an MCU for your project.
- How to choose the best RTOS for IoT devices, which explains what you need to consider when making your choice.