Energy-efficient single-chip Bluetooth 4.0 network processor

August 30, 2013 // By Graham Prophet
ST’s BlueNRG Bluetooth 4.0 wireless network processor has, ST says, lowest-available power consumption, enabling superior Bluetooth Smart devices. It integrates the Bluetooth 4.0 protocol stack, simplifying design in and giving developers flexibility to use the most appropriate application host processor. On-chip non-volatile memory allows upgrading of firmware with future Bluetooth releases.

STMicroelectronics is targeting market for “Appcessories” with its BlueNRG firmware-upgradeable network processor for Bluetooth Smart applications; it positions the chips as the most energy-efficient Bluetooth® 4.0 Low-Energy Single-Mode chip enabling longer runtimes and smaller, lighter batteries in a wide range of wireless “appcessories” such as fitness wristbands, smart eyewear, or interactive clothes.

The network processor provides the functions needed to link the Bluetooth Smart device to a Bluetooth Smart Ready host such as a smartphone or a tablet. Low active current consumption enables ultra low-power devices to operate for months or even years from a small coin-cell battery. Compliant with the latest Bluetooth 4.0 standard, BlueNRG features its own radio, processor and Bluetooth firmware to simplify the wireless design allowing engineers to concentrate on creating innovative applications.

Bluetooth 4.0 Low-Energy wireless technology consumes only a fraction of the power of Classic Bluetooth and is the technology behind the new wave of Bluetooth Smart devices now entering the market. All major mobile and desktop operating systems now support Bluetooth Smart Ready operations, paving the way to an ecosystem of Bluetooth Smart devices.

Peak current is 8.2mA in transmit mode at 0 dBm and 7.3 mA in receiver mode; output power is programmable from -18dBm to +8dBm, with up to 96dB RF link budget. BlueNRG also has frugal power management and transitions rapidly between operating modes thereby minimising unproductive power. It gives designers flexibility to choose their preferred host microcontroller and comes with Bluetooth Low-Energy profiles (GAP, GATT, SM, L2CAP, LL, RF-PHY) to run in the external application processor. The on-chip non-volatile memory enables easy firmware upgrades in the field to maintain compliance with future releases of the Bluetooth specification.

In QFN32 5 x 5mm or WCSP 2.6 x 2.6mm packages, pricing is from $1.80 (1000).