SoC from Nordic is “Bluetooth-5-ready”

December 07, 2016 // By Graham Prophet
The single-chip Bluetooth low energy nRF52840 System-on-Chip (SoC) develops Nordic Semconductor's nRF52 series SoC lineup in terms of both performance and feature improvements, with 4x range, 2x bandwidth, and enhanced security with on-chip ARM CryptoCell cryptographic accelerator.

Nordic (Oslo, Norway) anticipates applications in smart home, IoT, and wearables. Capabilities include support for new long range and high throughput features of the soon-to-be-released Bluetooth 5 specification, plus radio support for IEEE 802.15.4, more extensive Flash and RAM memory availability, and a new radio hardware architecture with increased output power and link budget. Together this – Nordic asserts – “redefines the performance envelope of single-chip Bluetooth low energy applications”.


The Bluetooth wireless technology Core Specification, Bluetooth 5, will shortly be officially adopted by the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG). Bluetooth 5 introduces longer range and throughput improvements. Compliance with the specification, coupled with increased maximum output power, enables the nRF52840 SoC to deliver Bluetooth low energy wireless connectivity with up to 4x the range or 2x the raw data bandwidth (2 Mbps) compared with the Bluetooth low energy implementation of Bluetooth 4.2.


In addition to Bluetooth 5 support, the nRF52840 SoC includes IEEE 802.15.4 capability. 802.15.4 wireless technology forms the basis of smart home technologies such as ZigBee and Thread (with additional upper layers not defined by the standard). IEEE 802.15.4 can also be employed as a Network Adaptation Layer with 6LoWPAN and standard Internet Protocols. The nRF52840 SoC's support for 802.15.4 extends the product's capability as an interoperable foundation technology for IoT, smart home, or industrial sensor wireless networks using several different wireless technologies.


Intended to support applications that were previously not possible with a single-chip solution, nRF52840 SoC employs the 64 MHz, 32-bit ARM Cortex M4F processor employed on Nordic's nRF52832 SoC, with generic processing power, Floating Point, and DSP performance,for demanding wireless applications.


The nRF52840 SoC's hardware enhancements compared with Nordic's existing nRF52832 SoC include a new radio architecture with on-chip PA boosting output power, and extending the link budget for 'whole house' applications; a doubling of Flash memory to 1 MB and a quadrupling of RAM memory to 256 kB; support