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What Developers Need to Know About Thread 1.3.0

Telink Staff

December 21, 2022

Standards

Abstract mesh networking image

Learn how Thread 1.3.0 offers developers a smoother mesh networking experience, with more convenient interoperability. 

Thread is a wireless mesh networking protocol built for IoT applications, offering developers a way to create a networking environment within an IP-based network where multiple devices, applications, and cloud-based services can interoperate. With a Thread Border Router, developers can connect a Thread network to Wi-Fi, Ethernet, or other IP-based networks for access to the wider internet. 

This protocol is quickly becoming a top choice for IoT developers in areas from smart home devices for private users to smart building applications for large businesses. It’s a flexible solution with countless possibilities. 

The Basics of Thread Technology 

Thread is a mesh network, meaning each node connects to other nodes within the network,  instead of in a traditional hierarchical architecture. It offers security, low-power operations, and interoperability, making it a popular choice for app developers globally. With this protocol, developers can connect multiple devices and applications within a building, with an easy option to add and remove products from the protocol.

The central component of Thread technology is the Thread Border Router, which connects Thread networks to larger network infrastructure, like Wi-Fi or Ethernet. The Border Router is intuitive to set up, and Thread devices are conveniently labeled with either “Border Router” (to indicate the Border Router is built in), or “Needs Border Router” (for devices that require a Thread Border Router). 

Once you have set up the Thread Border Router, the protocol integrates seamlessly with existing networks for convenient internet access. With multiple hops between the Thread network and the internet, you can ensure separate IP subnets for Thread communications. The Thread Border Router conveniently allows you to access Wi-Fi or Ethernet, which allows you to access the broader internet via your router or modem. 

Thread also uses low-power technology, which is an important component of any smart home network. Plenty of small devices are interconnected into the smart home setup, and they require a long battery life to avoid constant replacement and reinstallation. Thread’s low power operability helps to ensure that smart systems are long-lasting, low-maintenance, and cost-efficient. 

Target Use Cases for Thread 1.3.0 

Thread 1.3.0 is designed to provide a smoother mesh networking experience, with more convenient interoperability. Thread 1.3.0 offers improvements in three main use cases:

  1. Standardized Border Routers: Thread Border Routers are the key component of any Thread network, and Thread 1.3.0 makes it easier than ever to create and maintain Border Routers. Using Border Router extensions, Thread 1.3.0 offers a standardized and user-friendly interface for implementing Border Routers. For fast and effective internet connectivity, Border Routers can be built into a wide range of devices and applications. 
  2. Enabling Matter: With Thread 1.3.0, developers are able to join home and business networks more easily than ever using Matter devices. Matter offers a power-constrained approach to home networking, with high security and dependability. Increasingly used throughout smart buildings, Matter helps with low power consumption and fast connectivity. 
  3. Improved firmware updates: Updating firmware is faster and more effective with Thread 1.3.0. With innovative bulk transfer capabilities, Thread 1.3.0 uses TCP connections to establish a hole in the firewall, which allows you to securely get firmware updates without removing firewall capabilities from the rest of your network.

Key Updates in Thread 1.3 

Updates in Thread 1.3.0 are designed to address the use cases above, for an intuitive approach to mesh networking. Specifically, Thread 1.3.0 introduces new features that help to provide smoother operations and a more user-friendly setup. These improvements include: 

  • DNS-based Service Discovery (SD): With DNS-based Service Discovery, developers can more easily configure devices within the Thread network. Using a Zero Configuration networking protocol, DNS-based SD allows you to advertise and discover the services that are available. 
  • Connectivity across Thread Border Routers: Thread 1.3.0 offers IPv6 connectivity, so you can connect your Thread network more easily to other networks. IPv6 provides a convenient way to link the Thread protocol to the standard IP networks used in today’s smart houses and smart buildings. Thread devices can be configured to a wide range of routable IPv6 unicast addresses. 
  • New Transport Control Protocol (TCP) use cases: Thread 1.3.0 establishes more specific TCP requirements, with mandatory TCP implementations. While TCP doesn’t strictly need to be an endpoint for Thread networks, Thread-compliant devices need to establish TCP as a part of their implementation, either as an initiator or as a listener.

Getting Started with Thread 1.3.0 

Thread offers a user-friendly approach to mesh networking, with high security and compatibility with a wide range of products. Designed with IPv6, Thread is a proven approach to effective mesh infrastructure that keeps intra-mesh communications top secret. With Telink’s SoC, developers can create Thread-capable devices and applications that are fully compatible with Thread 1.3.0. 

Telink’s TLSR9 SoC is the first Thread component ever certified in China. With OpenThread capabilities, TLSR9 is useful throughout demos and code labs at the cutting edge of smart home technologies. Thread isn’t the only protocol you can support with Telink — with a single SoC, Telink allows you to support multiple operations from different protocols. Now, you can combine protocols like Thread and Bluetooth® Low Energy conveniently into the same SoC. With the help of Thread technology, Telink is making smart home applications easier to use than ever before.