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2.4GHz transceiver makes for ultracompact USB dongle

Posted: 31 Aug 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:wireless peripherals? 2.4GHz transceiver? flash memory?


Nordic Semiconductor releases the nRF24LU1, a single chip 2.4GHz transceiver that enables the implementation of ultracompact, high-performance USB dongles for wireless peripherals by providing a single chip solution in a tiny 5mm x 5mm QFN package with full on-chip security.

The chip is also designed to integrate seamlessly (via Nordic Semiconductor's Enhanced ShockBurst hardware link layer) with ultralow power 2.4GHz peripherals based on Nordic Semiconductor's nRF24L01 transceiver.

High-performance chip
The nRF24LU1 is claimed to establish new industry benchmarks in terms of size, performance and security.

The nRF24LU1 requires no external voltage regulator when employed within a product as it can be powered directly from the USB bus using an internal voltage regulator. This chip also generates all necessary clocks from a single 16MHz external crystal, eliminating the need for the second additional crystal typical in a two-chip approach. The nRF24LU1's internal 16Kbyte flash can also be used to emulate non-volatile memory, eliminating the need for an external EEPROM. This reduces PCB area and cost, enabling the development of ultra-compact USB dongles.

The performance of a USB dongle for wireless peripherals is primarily affected by three factors: the data transfer rate between the PC and USB dongle, the MCU employed within the dongle itself for simultaneous data processing and the on-air data communication rate of the transceiver used.

The Nordic Semiconductor nRF24LU1 uniquely delivers a full-speed USB 12Mbps PC to USB transfer rate, a powerful and highly optimized embedded 8051 MCU, plus a 2Mbps air data rate.

Two key security aspects concern developers of modern wireless peripherals: The application security of communications between the peripheral and the dongle itself and second, the IP security contained within the firmware of the end product.

The nRF24LU1 addresses both issues, said Nordic. It not only features an on-chip hardware AES encryption co-processor providing industry standard data encryption and decryption at the application level, it also employs 16Kbytes of on-chip flash memory that features fully configurable write and readback protection, offering complete protection from any reverse engineering or teardown analysis.

A full suite of development tools designed to allow accelerated, low cost and low-risk adoption of the nRF24LU1 are launched to support the chip. The suite includes a production-ready USB dongle Reference Design, full software development kit and a complete hardware development kit.

Samples of nRF24LU1 are available today, with volume shipments to commence in November. Pricing starts at $1.95 in 10,000-unit shipments. Reference design and development kits will start shipping in early September.

- Henri Arnold
EE Times Europe

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