Realtek's comprehensive Matter over Thread solution

2023/11/22 10:25:16

Realtek's comprehensive Matter over Thread solution, including Matter over Thread End Device, Thread Border Router, and Thread Leader/Thread Router, easily creating a highly compatible smart home system.

The Internet of Things (IoT) has been developing for many years, and its original intention was 'everything can be interconnected through the network.' However, since each major manufacturer has its own IoT ecosystem, and the entire industry lacks a unified standard specification, the development of IoT has been limited. Users often encounter interoperability issues that lead to increased costs. The birth of Matter is precisely to solve this problem.

Matter (formerly known as the Project Connected Home over IP) is an IP-based application layer protocol launched by the Connectivity Standards Alliance (formerly the Zigbee Alliance), which provides reliable and secure connections for smart home devices. Regardless of the underlying IP network protocol used, the Matter application layer can ensure interoperability between devices, thereby solving compatibility issues between smart home products from different manufacturers. This creates a better IoT ecosystem, which reduces the difficulty, cost, and cycles of smart home product development. Matter devices can be a part of multiple ecosystems, for example: a light bulb can connect to Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and Apple HomeKit at the same time. This allows consumers to easily add new products and brands without worrying about compatibility issues between devices, and gives users the freedom to choose smart home products from multiple brands.

Matter currently has two main branches, Matter over Thread and Matter over Wi-Fi. Thread is a low-power, secure wireless networking protocol designed specifically for smart homes. It is based on IPv6 and 6LoWPAN technologies and can establish a self-healing mesh network among the devices in a home. Matter over Thread is suitable for smart home devices that require low power consumption and reliable connections, such as sensors, door locks, lighting controllers, etc. The self-healing characteristic of the Thread mesh network means that even if a node fails, the network can continue to operate. Additionally, Thread devices do not need a central node when joining the network; they can communicate directly with other devices, which enhances the network's scalability and flexibility. Matter establishes application layer protocol specifications to achieve interoperability between different devices.

Figure 1 : Matter protocol

Figure 2 : Basic Network Topology

Realtek's comprehensive Matter over Thread solution, including Matter over Thread End Device, Thread Border Router, and Thread Leader/Thread Router. In a Thread network, an End Device refers to those devices that do not forward packets for other devices. They connect directly to a Thread Router or Leader and communicate with other devices in the network through that Router or Leader, typically used in low-power devices. The Thread Border Router provides the Thread network with a connection to external networks, allowing Thread devices to access the internet and permitting external devices to access the Thread network via the internet. It is a key component in achieving the interoperability of the Matter protocol, as it allows communication between different networking technologies. The Thread Leader is a crucial role in the Thread network responsible for maintaining network data, such as routing tables and network configurations. A Thread Router acts as a relay in the Thread network, serving not only its own communication needs but also forwarding packets for other devices. Realtek offers three solutions: Matter over Thread End Device, Thread Border Router, and Thread Leader/Thread Router, ensuring smooth communication and interoperability between smart home devices. End Devices communicate with the network through Routers or directly through the Leader, while the Border Router provides the Thread network with a connection to the broader internet world. This design allows Matter devices to work seamlessly across different networking technologies, providing users with a unified and convenient smart home experience.

Role Architecture RTL8771H RTL8771G RTL8777G
Matter over Thread Leader / Thread Router SoC      
RCP  (UART)  (USB)  
Border Router RCP  (UART)  (USB)  
Matter over End device SoC      

Table 1 : Realtek Matter over Thread Solution

TV/STB devices only need to add a Wi-Fi\BT and Thread dongle, and load some software modules to have the Border Router functionality, which can control various smart devices in the home, thus playing the role of a central control hub. Because Matter has unified the application layer specifications, consumers are free to choose devices of different brands with the Matter label, easily building a smart home system.

 

Figure 3:  Realtek Thread RCP for TV/STB