Thursday, July 25, 2024

Dual-Core SoC With Bluetooth LE Support For IoT Applications

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  • Besides supporting Bluetooth, Nordic Semiconductor’s dual-core SoC also supports protocols such as ZigBee, Thread and NFC
  • The SoC also delivers key storage and security features

These days the size, power, cost and convenience matter a lot while selecting a chip. Nordic Semiconductor’s nRF52 Series had introduced this with a powerful Arm processor and higher Flash and RAM capacity to meet rising customer requirements. 

And now the company has extended its range of wireless product family with the addition of nRF5340, a Bluetooth LE SoC that has not one but two processor cores, making it ideal for professional lighting, advanced wearables and other complex IoT applications.

There is an increased demand for higher performance of complex wireless applications that has further led to more demand for processing power and memory. A typical single-processor device generally has to decide between higher computational power or efficiency. The nRF5340 helps in removing this problem since its double core processor has the ability to wake up when it’s time to run complex software algorithms, making it battery-friendly. This enables the device to dedicate itself entirely to the application efficiently. 

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Key features:

  • Two Arm Cortex-M33 processors 
  • Can run at either 128 or 64 MHz
  • 1 MB Flash, 512 KB RAM
  • 1.7-5.5 V supply voltage range
  • Optimised for low power and efficiency (101 CoreMark/mA)
  • Supports an extensive range of wireless protocols such as Bluetooth Low Energy, Bluetooth Mesh, ZigBee and Thread. NFC, ANT, 802.15.4 and 2.4 GHz proprietary protocols are also supported.
  • Operating temperature: 105 degrees Celsius 

To meet real-time challenges, a single-core SoC can be implemented but it generally involves a costly software and associated risk of bugs whereas nRF5340’s cores act like a two-chip solution in a single SoC (rather than a system parallelly running a software). Each core runs its tasks optimally. 

The nRF5340 offers trusted execution, root-of-trust and secure key storage security features. Arm TrustZone provides trusted execution by implementing a division between secure and non-secure Flash, RAM, peripherals and GPIOs. The Arm CryptoCell-312 provides hardware-accelerated cryptography. With the key management unit (KMU) peripheral, root-of-trust and secure key storage are presented.

“Nordic has designed the most efficient and stable subsystem to operate the RF protocol. Safe in the knowledge that this subsystem is perfectly optimized, the customer needs no developing there, allowing them to focus solely on the application processor subsystem to differentiate their product from the competition.” stated the Nordic Semiconductor blog. “Nordic gives customers full access to both cores and freedom to use each as they want – which is not always the case for comparable products on the market. The network processor’s programmability enables the developer to select application software elements to run on it to take advantage of its higher efficiency compared with the application processor.”


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