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A low power GNSS module with outstanding accuracy – the ZOE-M8B from Alpha Micro
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A low power GNSS module with outstanding accuracy – the ZOE-M8B from Alpha Micro

Posted by Zenobia HegdeFebruary 14, 2018

Alpha Micro Components announced the availability of the u-blox ZOE-M8B, a GNSS System-in-Package (SiP) that looks set to revolutionise small battery powered consumer devices, including portables and wearables. The ZOE-M8B SiP offers the best possible balance of power consumption and positional accuracy in its class.

This module opens up a new world of applications for manufacturers, because it enables innovative battery powered devices that can provide very accurate and responsive GNSS positioning without harming user experience or performance. Some potential application areas include devices for fitness, health monitoring, and personal tracking.

“Achieving that difficult balance of size, weight and power is obviously a key challenge for small battery powered devices like smart watches, wearables and some IoT products. Keeping a small device’s footprint and power budget under control is always a headache for designers and developers,” said Nick Robins, technical director, Alpha Micro Components.

“If you’ve ever struggled to keep device size and power within your target specs, then you should probably take a close look at the ZOE-M8B, because it’s designed to solve exactly these problems, all in one module, thanks to its tiny form factor and power consumption that can go as low as 12mW.”

Despite its diminutive dimensions – only 4.5 x 4.5 x 1.0 mm – the ZOE-M8B module still manages to integrate critical features for stability, reliability and accuracy, such as a temperature compensated crystal oscillator (TCXO), SAW filter and low noise amplifier (LNA), along with the GNSS receiver. But how well does the ZOE-M8B’s high level of integration and small size translate into real world implementations? Very well indeed, with supporting external components, the total PCB footprint of the ZOE-M8B is only about 50% larger than the tiny module’s solo footprint.

This module’s unique combination of ultra-low-power operation and high performance is largely due to u-blox’s proprietary Super-E mode of operation, which automatically adjusts the power consumed by the system components to only provide power when and where it is needed.

Super-E is the secret ingredient that provides great accuracy without excessive power consumption. In practice, the ZOE-M8B’s power draw is as low as 12 mW during instantaneous tracking, and the module typically averages only 25 mW in most situations, including urban environments.

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Zenobia Hegde

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