Low-energy wireless “combo” chip offers concurrent ANT+ and Bluetooth

October 01, 2013 // By Graham Prophet
The nRF51922 from Nordic Semiconductor is claimed to be the world's first concurrent ANT+ and Bluetooth low energy combo chip. The nRF51922 System-on-Chip will allow the development of products that natively support ANT+ and Bluetooth low energy wireless technology.

Ultra low power (ULP) RF specialist Nordic Semiconductor 's nRF51922 System-on-Chip (SoC) is a multiprotocol SoC solution offering concurrent ANT+ and Bluetooth low energy wireless communication natively in a single chip. By bringing together the two most popular wireless technologies in the ULP wireless industry today, the newest addition to Nordic Semiconductor's nRF51 Series means product developers in markets like sport, wellness, healthcare, and smartphone appcessories will no longer be forced to choose between one or other of these previously incompatible wireless technologies.

The nRF51922 enables full flexibility in using one or both protocols concurrently in a product, enabling multiprotocol accessories and compatibility with ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart Ready hubs. This will also benefit end users who will no longer be forced to make choices between these two ecosystems when purchasing products.

The nRF51922 is drop-in compatible with existing nRF51 series devices, but features Nordic's new 'S310' SoftDevice that combines the ANT+ and Bluetooth low energy stacks in a single software framework. The S310 offers the same fully autonomous, secure, and event-driven application interface as existing Nordic SoftDevices, which includes a clean separation of protocol stacks and application firmware to greatly simplify firmware development and testing, and maximize operational reliability.

Pin-compatible hardware and a familiar interface on the S310 for existing Nordic S110 (Bluetooth low energy) and S210 (ANT+) SoftDevice users means Nordic customers that already have an nRF51 Series ANT+ or Bluetooth low energy product will be able to keep existing hardware design and firmware unchanged, and only add needed firmware support for the new protocol stack when adopting the nRF51922.

"ANT+ remains a massively important and hugely successful interoperable ULP wireless technology and with tens of millions of devices in the market, the most successful to date," comments Nordic Tactical Marketing Manager, John Leonard. "ANT paved the way for interoperability in ULP wireless and continues to 'set the bar' in terms of overall performance and power consumption. The