Nordic Launches Low-Cost OTP Variants Of 2.4 GHz SoC Solutions

Oct 27, 2009
Oslo, Norway –- Ultra low power (ULP) RF specialist Nordic Semiconductor ASA releases a pair of low cost one time programmable (OTP) variants of its nRF24LE1 and nRF24LU1+ 2.4GHz ULP wireless system-on-chip (SoC) solutions: the nRF24LE1 OTP and nRF24LU1+ OTP.

These new OTP product variants complement Nordic's existing solutions by targeting the most fiercely price sensitive, yet typically highest volume consumer segments of the ULP wireless market such as entry-level wireless PC peripherals (mice and keyboards), remote controls and toys. In addition, fierce price constraints for low end products in these sectors that currently do employ wireless connectivity have restricted manufacturers to cheap 27MHz transceivers: Now these 2.4GHz low price options from Nordic make a technically superior alternative available to these manufacturers.

Based on the same technology platform as the nRF24LE1 and nRF24LU1+ flash products, the new nRF24LE1 OTP and nRF24LU1+ OTP (or OTPs for short) still feature Nordic's high-performance ULP nRF24L01+ transceiver core, enhanced 8051 microcontroller (MCU), lower power oscillators, hardware AES security, and a wide range of application peripherals and interfaces. Both the nRF24LE1 OTP and nRF24LU1+ OTP integrate 16kBytes of program OTP and 1kByte of data OTP. With a fully integrated charge pump the OTP is writable from the chip's MCU enabling the data OTP to be used for emulating non-volatile memory when required (e.g. to retain pairing information during a battery change).

The nRF24LE1 OTP and nRF24LU1+ OTP inherit the ULP operating characteristics of their flash-based sister products enabling extended operation from small capacity batteries such as AAA or coin cell types. For example, current consumption of the nRF24LE1+ OTP while transmitting is just 11.1mA (at 0dBm output power) and peak receive current is 13.3mA (at 2Mbps). Average current is in the microampere range (for a typical low duty cycle operation).

"These new OTP-based 2.4GHz SoC solutions represent a giant leap forward for the ULP wireless market," says Thomas Embla Bonnerud, Product Manager for Ultra Low Power Wireless at Nordic Semiconductor. "This is because their pricing will further accelerate the adoption of ULP wireless solutions into products that may once have not been able to enjoy the benefits of wireless connectivity on the basis of cost. The new devices will also accelerate the replacement of low end 27MHz products – such as cheaper wireless mice and keyboards – with technically superior 2.4GHz wireless connectivity now that the cost barrier has been removed."

"In addition, brand new market segments will now be able to take advantage of our ULP wireless technology and enjoy the unique price, performance and ULP power benefits (i.e. the ability to be powered by small, coin cell (watch) batteries) that our class-leading, single chip SoCs provide. This also includes being able to use our full range of development tools, reference designs and the Gazell™ protocol stack. In fact with these two products, ULP wireless has never been more accessible."

About the nRF24LE1 OTP (one time programmable)
The nRF24LE1 OTP integrates a fully-featured nRF24L01+ 2.4GHz transceiver core including Nordic's proven Enhanced ShockBurst™ hardware link layer. It delivers true ultra low power (ULP) operation with peak currents low enough to run on coin cell (watch) batteries. (Tx is 11.1mA at 0dBm output power, Rx 13.3mA at 2Mbps, and average current is in microamp range for typical low duty cycle operation.)

The nRF24LE1 OTP also integrates an enhanced 8051 mixed signal microcontroller (MCU) core featuring fewer clock cycles per instruction than legacy 8051 devices. Most instructions need just one or two clock cycles leading to an average performance improvement of 8X using the MIPS (million instructions per second) benchmark. This high performance combined with 16kBytes of on-chip program OTP, 1kByte of on-chip data OTP, plus 1kByte of SRAM, ensures the processing platform is powerful enough to run both the RF protocol stack and application layer with ease.

A wide range of peripherals and power saving modes support the RF protocol stack. A ULP 32kHz crystal oscillator provides high accuracy timing for low report rate synchronous protocols and a 16MHz RC oscillator provides fast start-up times from idle. The 32kHz oscillator can provide timing accurate enough for higher report rate protocols without requiring an external crystal. A security co-processor supports AES encrypted wireless communication. The nRF24LE1 OTP provides a range of nanoamp and microamp idle modes specifically designed for ULP RF protocol stacks. Further benefits include higher precision protocol timing, lower power consumption, and improved co-existence performance.

For the application layer the nRF24LE1 OTP offers a rich set of interfaces and peripherals including an SPI, 2-wire, UART, 12-bit ADC, PWM and an analog comparator. As such, the nRF24LE1 OTP is the ideal single chip solution for cost sensitive wireless applications including mice, keyboards, remote controls, game controllers, sports/healthcare sensors, toys, and active RFID tags.

The nRF24LE1 OTP is available in three package options. The tiny 4x4mm 24-pin QFN option is by far the smallest ULP SoC solution available on the market today and provides 7 programmable generic I/O pins. For applications where more I/O pins are needed the nRF24LE1 OTP is also available in a 5x5mm 32-pin QFN with 15 generic I/O pins, and a 7x7mm 48-pin QFN with 29 generic I/O pins.

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Written By: Lawrence Beimel
Senior Marketing Manager
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