Nordic Semiconductor ships samples and development kits for its uBlue Bluetooth low energy single mode solution to lead customers

Nov 20, 2009
Oslo, Norway - November 17, 2009 - Ultra low power (ULP) RF specialist Nordic Semiconductor ASA (OSE: NOD) today reveals that it is already shipping to key customers silicon samples and development kits of the first member of its µBlue™ Bluetooth low energy single mode solution, the nRF8001.

While the Bluetooth low energy specification is still under development, Nordic is providing a complete beta implementation, including host and profiles subsystem, enabling its lead customers to begin both hardware and software development of their first single mode Bluetooth low energy applications. Nordic expects to have a feature complete and qualified product shortly after the specification is finalized by the Bluetooth SIG.

Nordic Semiconductor will demonstrate the technology and showcase the development kit at the IMS Bluetooth Evolution Conference in London, UK, November 17 and the Second International Bluetooth low energy Conference in Beijing, China, November 19.

Key features of the µBlue nRF8001 include:
  • Highly integrated single mode slave solution
  • 32-pin 5x5mm QFN package
  • Fully embedded radio, link controller, and host subsystem
  • Profiles and application examples included within the µBlue SDK™
  • Sub 15mA peak current consumption
  • Microampere range average current consumption
  • Years of battery operating life for coin cell battery-powered applications (depending on duty cycle).
"We are making the nRF8001 silicon samples and Prototype Kits available to seed the market," says Thomas Embla Bonnerud, Product Manager for Ultra Low Power Wireless at Nordic Semiconductor ASA. "Even though the Bluetooth low energy specification is still under development and some aspect of the product will have to be completed and changed, we have a complete solution that works.

"Most importantly this means that we can provide our lead customers with something that enables them to get started developing end-products," continues Bonnerud. "We believe that Bluetooth low energy is a great technology that will accelerate the market for ultra low power wireless. Nordic Semiconductor will deliver market leading solution to fuel that growth; the nRF8001 is just the beginning."

About Bluetooth low energy*
Bluetooth low energy wireless technology will encourage rapid deployment of ultra-low power (ULP) wireless by providing a technology that is interoperable. Moreover, Bluetooth low energy wireless technology-equipped products will be able to communicate with mobile phones and PCs featuring modified Bluetooth wireless technology transceivers opening up a whole new range of possibilities. In summary, Bluetooth low energy wireless technology is an ultra low power (ULP) wireless solution delivering:
  • Ultra low peak, average and idle mode power consumption
  • Ultra low cost plus small size for accessories and human interface devices (HIDs)
  • Minimal (if any) cost and size addition to cell phone handsets and PCs
  • Global, intuitive and secure multi-vendor interoperability.
The technology will operate in the globally accepted 2.4GHz Industrial, Scientific & Medical (ISM) band. It features a physical layer bit rate of 1Mbps over a range up to 15 meters.

The Bluetooth low energy wireless technology specification will feature two implementations, namely "dual mode" and "single mode". In the dual mode implementation Bluetooth low energy functionality is integrated into classic Bluetooth circuitry. The resulting architecture shares much of Bluetooth technology"s existing functionality and physical radio and results in a minimal, if any, cost increase compared to contemporary Bluetooth chips.

Single mode chips will be highly integrated and compact devices. The simplified Bluetooth low energy wireless technology protocol stack features a lightweight Link Layer (LL) providing ultra-low power idle mode operation, simple device discovery and reliable point-to-multipoint data transfer with advanced power-save and encryption functionalities. The LL provides a means to schedule Bluetooth low energy wireless technology traffic between classic Bluetooth transmissions. Profiles will include support for a variety of low power devices such as HIDs, sensors and sports watches etc.

ULP consumption is critical to Bluetooth low energy wireless technology's success. Single mode devices will be expected to run for many months or even years on standard coin-cell batteries (for example, CR2032, 3V lithium devices). Single mode chips will typically operate with low duty cycles, entering ultra-low power idle and sleep modes, to wake up periodically for a communication "burst".

Dual mode chips are targeted at handsets, multimedia computers and PCs. The dual mode specification is also advanced and it is envisaged chips will feature power consumptions of around 75 to 80 percent of conventional Bluetooth chips when operating in Bluetooth low energy wireless technology mode and typically cost less than tens of cents more. These next generation dual mode Bluetooth chips will share much of Bluetooth technology's existing functionality and radio in a single die. However, because dual mode devices will use parts of Bluetooth technology’s hardware, power consumption is ultimultimately dependant upon the Bluetooth implementation. Consequently, dual mode devices will not enjoy all of the benefits and possibilities outlined in the Bluetooth low energy wireless technology specification.

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Written By: Lawrence Beimel
Senior Marketing Manager
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