What is Dual-Mode Bluetooth 5? | Symmetry Blog

Oct 9, 2018
 

Written by Augustine Nguyen
Applications Engineer at Symmetry Electronics

 

The latest release of the Bluetooth protocol, Bluetooth 5, brings greater power and control to future Bluetooth devices. So, how do you take advantage of the most advanced Bluetooth currently available and implement it into our devices today?

One of the most exciting features to be released is Dual-Mode Bluetooth. Keep reading to find out what Dual-Mode Bluetooth is, and if it is right for your design.

 

What is Dual-Mode Bluetooth?

Recall from a previous Symmetry blog post that Bluetooth has evolved from Bluetooth 1.0 to the current iteration of Bluetooth 5.0, and each version came with big changes in how Bluetooth devices interact with each other (read about Bluetooth 1.0 vs 2.0 vs 3.0 vs 4.0 vs 5.0 here). Between Bluetooth 3.0 and Bluetooth 4.0 came Bluetooth Low Energy, or BLE for short. BLE presented an entirely different use case, one that made Bluetooth 3.0 (also known as Bluetooth Classic) still relevant. This posed a problem for some devices that had multiple uses, like smartphones.

This is where having both Bluetooth Classic and BLE became important. We discussed this topic in another previous blog here at Symmetry (read the post here).

Dual-Mode Bluetooth 5 represents the advancement of this need. By having both Bluetooth Classic and BLE, applications can have the best of both worlds, on that incorporates powerful, long-range Bluetooth with power-saving BLE and Bluetooth MESH.

 

Is Dual-Mode Bluetooth Right For My Application?

The answer to whether you need Dual-Mode Bluetooth depends on how versatile you need your application to be.

Some applications are, by design, narrow in use cases. Many applications are created to do a specific job and do it well. Because many design engineers already know the specific uses of an application, these applications can be narrowed down to Bluetooth Classic or BLE.

When an application is more versatile and have the ability to scale and expand its functions over time (as is the case with many IoT devices), then having Dual-Mode Bluetooth can help future proof your device and keep it relevant in the future.

A common example of a Dual-Mode Bluetooth application is the smartphone.

If you have a modern smartphone in your pocket, it is likely equipped with both Bluetooth Classic and Bluetooth Low Energy. Because of the differences between the two, each one has its purpose.

Bluetooth Classic receives the most attention on your phone, as it allows connectivity with wireless headphones, wireless speakers, and Bluetooth enabled automobiles. When this stream is left on, you may notice the phone battery draining at a quicker rate than usual, reflecting what we know about Bluetooth Classic and its heavy energy requirements.

For less data-intensive tasks, Bluetooth Low Energy takes over, connecting the phone to devices that use smaller sensors (e.g., fitness trackers that measure your heart rate, temperature, and movement). These devices can be left on over a longer period without significantly draining your phone battery.

 

Okay, Dual-Mode Bluetooth Sounds Great, But Where Do I Find It?

Redpine Signals recently announced its industry-leading dual-mode Bluetooth 5 and 802.15.4 Wireless Secure MCU (WiSeMCU™) solution – RS13100 - with an integrated 180 MHz ARM® Cortex®-M4F MCU for customer applications. Redpine has been and continues to be an innovative provider of multi-protocol wireless solutions with Wi-Fi, dual-mode Bluetooth and 802.15.4, and is now leveraging its expertise and experience to launch a leading-edge dual-mode Bluetooth solution for the latest IoT audio, data and control applications.

“Dual-mode Bluetooth 5 is the technology of choice for a growing number of advanced IoT applications that require music streaming, voice recognition, and connection to smart phones and other IoT devices,” said Tim Vehling, president of Redpine Signals.“ Existing solutions in the market are either under-powered or lack support for critical Bluetooth functions, forcing designers to compromise on their designs.  The RS13100 not only features long-range dual-mode Bluetooth 5 and BLE mesh support, but also includes a high-performance processor, class-leading security, low-power operation, and advanced peripherals that meet the requirements of advanced IoT applications.”

The RS13100’s integrated ARM® Cortex®-M4F application processor is capable of running up to 180 MHz and includes a DSP co-processor ideal for accelerating compute-intensive applications such as audio and AI, providing 2-3x better performance than competitors. It has a unique combination of ultra-low power and high-performance operating modes that provide as low as 19 uA/MHz power which is the lowest in the industry. The RS13100 also supports a rich set of digital and analog peripherals including VAD (Voice Activation Detection), CAN, Ethernet, eMMC/SD Card, ADC, DAC and USB OTG.

Bluetooth Low Energy 5 and 802.15.4 integrated in the RS13100 have the capability to provide up to 20 dBm output power and -104 dBm receiver sensitivity with an internal power amplifier, making it the highest-output power solution in the industry. In addition, dual-mode Bluetooth 5 capability enables designers to provide simultaneous audio and high data throughput capabilities along with connectivity to multiple BLE and 802.15.4 devices. The integrated 802.15.4 provides ZigBee or Thread protocol support for connectivity to other home automation and sensor nodes. The RS13100 also has a unique low power operating mode for the integrated Bluetooth A2DP which provides the lowest power music streaming in the industry.

The RS13100 is based on a trusted execution environment (TEE) architecture with a separate security processor, and includes suite-B Crypto HW accelerators, secure boot, secure firmware upgrade, secure XIP and secure peripherals. Its high-security levels are ideal for applications such as mobile point-of-sale terminals, smart locks, medical devices and secure voice-based ordering. 

The RS13100 features a patent-pending ‘big-little’ architecture at every level including MCU, Bluetooth 5 as well as 802.15.4 which provides optimized transitions between high-performance and low-power operating modes. These ultra-low power capabilities enable battery-operated devices such as smart locks, fitness bands, industrial control units, sensors and location tags to have 3-4x the battery life compared with other solutions. The RS13100 also includes an "always-on" sensor-hub with hardware accelerators for voice-activity detection (VAD), sensor data collection and capacitive touch.

Redpine Signals offers the RS13100 in both package and module form-factors, including the industry’s smallest certified module with dimensions of 4.63 mm x 7.90 mm with integrated dual-mode BT 5, 802.15.4 and high-end Cortex-M4F.

Evaluation Kit for the RS13100 is available at Symmetry. Production of the RS13100 is expected to start in Q4 2018.

 

Features:

  • Highly integrated and secure solution with dual-mode Bluetooth 5 and 802.15.4 (capable of running ZigBee or Thread)
  • Efficient on-chip application processor based on ARM Cortex-M4F with up to 180 MHz performance, up to 4 MB dedicated flash and up to 400 kB of RAM
  • Support for BLE 5 long range (125 kbps), high data rate (2 Mbps) and advertising extensions
  • Ultra-low power consumption with multiple power modes to reduce the system energy consumption
  • Multiple levels of security including PUF (Physically Unclonable Function), Crypto HW accelerators, Secure Bootloader and Secure Zone, to create a highly secure system
  • Ultra-small size SoC (3.51 mm x 3.6 mm) and module (4.63 mm x 7.90 mm) options (additional package options are also available)
  • Integrated wireless stacks and profiles for easy evaluation and integration
  • Leading edge RF performance (up to 20 dBm output power for BLE and 802.15.4) providing long range up and higher throughputs
  • Unique peripherals like ULP sub-system, Voice Activity Detection (VAD) and up to 8 capacitive touch sensor inputs

 

Looking to integrate Redpine Signal products with your design? Our Applications Engineers offer free design and technical help for your latest designs. Contact us today!

 


 

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Why partner with Symmetry Electronics? Symmetry's technical staff is specially trained by our suppliers to provide a comprehensive level of technical support. Our in-house Applications Engineers provide free design services to help customers early in the design cycle, providing solutions to save them time, money and frustration. Contact Symmetry for more information.



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