Nordic updates Bluetooth LE protocol stack with over-the-air upgrade

April 08, 2014 // By Graham Prophet
With full Bluetooth v4.1 compliance, this enhanced RF protocol software stack includes features that simplify design of ULP wireless products for expert- and non expert-RF engineers, and that enable simple, secure, and reliable field updates of both stack and application.

Ultra low power (ULP) RF specialist Nordic Semiconductor has announced S110 SoftDevice v7.0, a major release of its Bluetooth low energy stack, for the nRF51822 Bluetooth low energy and 2.4GHz proprietary System-on-Chip (SoC) and the nRF51422 ANT and ANT/Bluetooth low energy multiprotocol SoCs. (A SoftDevice is Nordic's self-contained stack for nRF51 Series SoCs that incorporates an RF protocol and its associated management framework.)

S110 SoftDevice v7.0 brings a range of features including Over-The-Air Device Firmware Upgrade (OTA-DFU), concurrent Peripheral / Broadcaster roles, support for concurrent multiprotocol Bluetooth low energy/2.4 GHz RF proprietary operation, and compliance with the latest version of Bluetooth wireless technology (Bluetooth v4.1) allowing end products using the S110 SoftDevice to be qualified to the Bluetooth standard.

The nRF51 Series SoCs' flash-based architecture and the S110 SoftDevice's OTA-DFU feature support a flexibility to firmware upgrades that Nordic says is not possible on alternative static ROM/OTP-based ULP wireless SoCs. Now the nRF51822 and nRF51422 SoCs' stacks and application firmware can be upgraded quickly and easily using the devices' own wireless link. The OTA-DFU feature allows complete application and protocol stack upgrades and is not limited to just partial updates and patching. When using OTA-DFU, firmware upgrades can be delivered in a variety of ways depending on the chip's use case. (Nordic provides an iOS or Android smartphone app that demonstrates this flexibility.)

The S110 SoftDevice v7.0 is now able to handle concurrent multiprotocol Bluetooth low energy and 2.4 GHz RF proprietary communication. During concurrent protocol handling, Bluetooth low energy operates from the S110 SoftDevice itself while the 2.4GHz proprietary protocol runs from the application space. The S110 SoftDevice manages all radio scheduling through application programming interfaces (API).

Concurrent multiprotocol protocol software handling opens up a range of possibilities for designers while also benefiting end users because they will no longer be forced to make hard choices between these two technologies when purchasing wireless accessories or peripherals.

Concurrent Peripheral/Broadcaster roles