Available today, the μBlue™ nRF8001 expands Nordic's line-up of ultra low power wireless solutions and by delivering sub 12.5mA peak currents and connected mode average currents as low as sub 12μA it represents the lowest power Bluetooth® low energy solution now available. As such, the nRF8001 truly delivers on the promise of Bluetooth low energy to provide an interoperable wireless connectivity solution that can offer years of battery life from a coin cell battery source
Oslo, Norway – January 24, 2011 – Ultra low power (ULP) RF specialist Nordic Semiconductor ASA (OSE: NOD) today launches the µBlue nRF8001. By delivering sub 12.5mA peak currents and connected mode average currents as low as sub 12µA (for 1s connection intervals), µBlue nRF8001represents the industry's lowest power Bluetooth low energy solution. The device is Nordic's first chip in its brand new μBlue Bluetooth low energy product line (see “About µBlue” and “About Bluetooth low energy wireless technology” below).
Complementing Nordic's existing ULP nRF24Lxx and ANT™ 2.4GHz RF product lines with a complete and fully qualified Bluetooth Version 4.0 (“Bluetooth v4.0”) low energy solution, the nRF8001 is a highly integrated wireless connectivity solution supplied in a compact 5x5mm, 32-pin QFN package that when combined with its best-in-class ultra low power consumption makes the device ideally suited to the typically space-constrained coin cell battery operated applications that Bluetooth low energy technology was designed to target. These include wireless products and sensors designed to be worn on – or carried close to – the end user's body including mobile phone peripherals such as proximity tags and watches, and sports fitness and health sensors, as well as consumer electronic remote controls, and home and industrial automation devices.
In addition, the nRF8001 integrates a DC/DC regulator that, if enabled, can further cut peak currents and average currents by up to 20 percent when running from a coin cell battery source. The nRF8001 is also the first fully qualified Bluetooth v4.0 low energy design to combine the Radio, Link Layer, and Host into one End Product Listing (EPL), enabling designers to easily create new Bluetooth end products without any additional listing fees.
The nRF8001 chip makes it as straightforward as possible for designers to add Bluetooth low energy wireless connectivity to existing applications by integrating a complete Bluetooth v4.0 low energy Radio, Link Layer, and Host stack supporting Peripheral (“slave”) role operation, and featuring a simple serial interface supporting external microcontrollers of a designer's own choosing given the individual requirements of their application. The nRF8001 chip also integrates a unique low tolerance 32kHz RC oscillator that eliminates the need for external 32kHz crystals, a 16MHz crystal oscillator supporting low cost 16MHz crystals, plus an on-chip linear voltage regulator that provides a supply range of 1.9 to 3.6V as an alternative to its integrated DC/DC regulator.
“By complementing our existing nRF24xxx and ANT™ 2.4GHz product lines with our new μBlue line of Bluetooth low energy chips, Nordic now offers the complete range of best-in-class ULP wireless solutions and thus the ideal solution for any given application or segment – new or existing – proprietary or interoperable,” says Thomas Embla Bonnerud, Product Manager for Ultra Low Power Wireless at Nordic Semiconductor.
“The nRF8001 is the first product in our new μBlue line, and delivers on the promise of Bluetooth low energy technology by offering a low cost, ULP wireless solution enabling years of battery lifetime from a single coin cell battery. And by combining a fully qualified Radio, Link Layer and Host stack into one EPL, while providing support for a wide range of application controllers and profiles, the nRF8001 is the easiest and fastest way for designers to add Bluetooth low energy connectivity to their applications.”
Production samples and a development kit for the µBlue nRF8001 are available now directly from Nordic Semiconductor. General availability through sales distribution partners will start mid-February this year, with volume shipments beginning in March.
About µBlue μBlue will be a range of Bluetooth low energy solutions based on a single chip architecture integrating radio, baseband, and microcontroller with fully embedded Bluetooth low energy software stacks fully compliant with Bluetooth Version 4.0 Core Specification (“Bluetooth v4.0”). By providing a complete solution, μBlue will significantly ease the effort and cost for manufacturers to make Bluetooth low energy wireless-enabled products. This high level of integration, tiny chip size and low external component count makes μBlue ideal for size-constrained applications like watches and wearable sensors. μBlue will also be made available in a number of targeted application variants to suit the specific requirements of products in various market segments.
μBlue will provide a true ultra low power (ULP) wireless solution with peak currents low enough to support standard coin cell battery operation and microampere average current. This means that μBlue will drastically expand the range of applicable application areas where manufacturers can take advantage of Bluetooth wireless connectivity as well as deliver an improved user experience in existing applications. While Classic Bluetooth solutions typically require rechargeable batteries and weekly charging cycles, μBlue will support applications that use non-rechargeable batteries, such as coin cells, and that therefore need to deliver months to years of battery lifetime to avoid end user frustration. Applications that use Classic Bluetooth today - like Bluetooth enabled watches and remote controls - can benefit on both battery lifetime and cost by migrating to μBlue Bluetooth low energy wireless technology.
The ULP consumption of μBlue does not come with a compromise on radio performance. μBlue is built on Nordic Semiconductor’s latest class-leading ULP 2.4GHz radio technology and is therefore expected to deliver best-in-class sensitivity and blocking performance from launch. Combined with the robust adaptive frequency hopping of Bluetooth low energy, μBlue will provide excellent co-existence performance in the presence of other 2.4GHz radios such as Wi-Fi and Classic Bluetooth.
The first offering in the µBlue range includes the nRF8001, a fully compliant Bluetooth v4.0 Bluetooth low energy slave solution ideal for applications like watches, mobile phone peripherals, remote controls, and sensors.
About Bluetooth low energy wireless technology Bluetooth® low energy wireless technology is a hallmark feature of the Bluetooth Core Specification Version 4.0 (“Bluetooth v4.0”). The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) – the organization charged with driving development of Bluetooth wireless technology and bringing it to market – adopted Bluetooth v4.0 in December 2009.
Bluetooth low energy will encourage rapid deployment of ultra low power (ULP) wireless by providing a technology that is widely interoperable. Moreover, Bluetooth low energy-equipped products will be able to communicate with mobile phones and PCs featuring Bluetooth v4.0 transceivers, opening up a whole new range of possibilities. In summary, Bluetooth low energy is a ULP wireless solution featuring:
- 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 handsets and PCs;
- Global, intuitive and secure multi-vendor interoperability.
The technology operates 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.
This specification allows Bluetooth low energy functionality to be integrated into an existing Classic Bluetooth controller. Additionally, manufacturers can use current Classic Bluetooth technology (Bluetooth v2.1 + EDR or Bluetooth v3.0 + HS) chips with the new Bluetooth low energy stack, enhancing the development of Classic Bluetooth-enabled devices with new capabilities.
Bluetooth low energy chips, which will enable highly integrated and compact devices, will feature a lightweight Link Layer (LL) providing ULP idle mode operation, simple device discovery, and reliable point-to-multipoint data transfer with advanced power-save and secure encrypted connections at the lowest possible cost. The LL provides a means to schedule Bluetooth low energy traffic between Classic Bluetooth transmissions. Profiles will include support for a variety of low power devices such as HIDs, sensors, and sports watches.
Ultra low power consumption is critical to Bluetooth low energy’s success. Because the technology is optimized for devices requiring maximum battery life instead of a high data transfer rate, it consumes between 1 and 50 percent of the power of Classic Bluetooth technology. Bluetooth low energy devices will be expected to run for many months or even years on standard coin cells (for example, CR2032, 3V lithium devices). The chips will typically operate with low duty cycles, entering ULP idle and sleep modes, to wake up periodically for a communication “burst”.
Bluetooth v4.0 chips will typically cost little (if anything) more than the Classic Bluetooth chips they will replace and are targeted at digital “hub” products such as mobile handsets and computers.
Bluetooth v4.0 chips will share much of Classic Bluetooth technology’s existing functionality and radio in a single die. Moreover, because these devices will use parts of Classic Bluetooth technology’s hardware, power consumption is ultimately dependent upon the Bluetooth implementation. For example, while connecting to a Bluetooth low energy device (without utilization of Classic Bluetooth technology) the Bluetooth v4.0 device will enjoy the low-power consumption advantages of Bluetooth low energy. However, in other implementations, Bluetooth v4.0 devices may not enjoy all the benefits and possibilities outlined in the latest Bluetooth Version Core Specification 4.0 for Bluetooth low energy.
Nordic Semiconductor was an early member of the Nokia-led Wibree Alliance, the organization that started the development of an interoperable ULP wireless standard in October 2006. That organization merged with the Bluetooth SIG in June 2007. Nordic has therefore played a key role in the development of Bluetooth low energy since the start, and continues to play an important role through its work as a Bluetooth SIG associate member company.
About Nordic Semiconductor ASA (www.nordicsemi.com)
Nordic Semiconductor is a fabless semiconductor company specializing in ultra low power (ULP) short-range wireless communication.
Nordic Semiconductor’s nRF24xxx range of 2.4GHz transceiver and transmitter devices are aimed at applications including PC peripherals (wireless keyboards/mice/multimedia controllers), game controllers, intelligent sports equipment and wireless audio (for example, MP3 and portable CD player wireless headphones and wireless PC speakers).
Nordic is a member of the ANT+ Alliance and has successfully collaborated with ANT Wireless of Cochrane, Canada, since 2005. ANT devices such as the nRF24AP2 family – using Nordic 2.4GHz transceivers and the proven ANT protocol – have been used in millions of wireless sensor nodes across the world. ANT is perfectly suited for any kind of low data rate sensor network topologies in personal area networks (PANs) and practical wireless sensor networks (WSNs). ANT+ (built on the ANT protocol) facilitates interoperability between ANT+ Alliance member devices in application segments such as sports, wellness, and medical health sensors.
Nordic is an associate member of the Bluetooth SIG, and has contributed core expertise in ultra low power (ULP) RF design to Bluetooth® low energy wireless technology (formerly ultra low power Bluetooth). Bluetooth low energy is a short range RF communication technology featuring ultra low power consumption, a lightweight protocol stack and simple integration with Bluetooth chips. It is a hallmark feature of the latest Bluetooth Core Specification Version 4.0. The technology will support the next generation of RF communications by opening up many new opportunities for ULP wireless data links between suitably equipped mobile handsets or computers and small (typically coin cell) battery-powered devices such as sports, wellness, and medical health sensors.
Nordic’s products are all manufactured in state of the art semiconductor process technologies through strong, long-term relationships with world-best manufacturing facilities. Sales are primarily made through a carefully selected worldwide distribution network.