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Nordic rolls 'smallest' ultralow power 2.4GHz wireless solution

Posted: 09 Sep 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:ultralow power solution? 2.4GHz wireless SoC? wireless application?

Nordic Semiconductor ASA has launched the nRF24LE1, touted to be the smallest 2.4GHz ultralow power wireless SoC solution that enables a single-chip implementation in wireless applications.

The nRF24LE1 integrates a fully-featured nRF24L01+ 2.4GHz transceiver core including Nordic's Enhanced ShockBurst hardware link layer. It delivers true ultralow power operation with peak currents low enough to run on coin cell batteries.

Available in three package options, the tiny 4mm x 4mm 24-pin QFN is touted to be the smallest ultralow power single chip power solution available and provides 7 programmable generic I/O pins. For applications where more I/O pins are needed the nRF24LE1 is also available in a 5mm x 5mm 32-pin QFN with 15 generic I/O pins, and a 7mm x 7mm 48-pin QFN with 29 generic I/O pins.

The device also integrates an enhanced 8051 mixed signal 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 benchmark. The high performance combined with 16Kbyte of on-chip flash 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 ultralow power 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 provides a range of nanoamp and microamp idle modes specifically designed for ultralow power RF protocol stacks. Further benefits include higher precision protocol timing, lower power consumption, and improved co-existence performance.

For the application layer the nRF24LE1 offers a rich set of interfaces and peripherals including an SPI, 2-wire, UART, 12bit ADC, pulse-width modulator and an analog comparator. The nRF24LE1 are suitable for wireless applications including mice, keyboards, remote controls, game controllers, sports/healthcare sensors, toys and active RFID tags.

Support tools
The nRF24LE1 is supported by a comprehensive set of development tools. This includes being the first part to be compatible with the brand new Nordic nRFgo evaluation and development platform. At the core of this platform is the nRFgo starter kit (nRF6700) which provides a generic evaluation and development platform for all Nordic ULP 2.4GHz radios. The nRF24LE1 development kit complements the Starter Kit by including radio modules and a complete software development kit (SDK).

To get started with the nRF24LE1, designers need both a starter and a development kit. However, upcoming products from Nordic will also be compatible with the starter kit so users will only need to purchase the Development Kit relevant to these products in future.

The nRFgo starter kit is a suitable platform for developing ultralow power applications. It includes two motherboards with standard sockets for Nordic radio modules, plus a rich set of standard interfaces and prototyping facilities. The motherboards also offer built-in support for the Nordic nRFProbea high-performance fully-featured hardware debug solution for Nordic radios with built in MCUs such as the nRF24LE1. The included nRFgo Studio PC software package also enables quick and easy RF evaluation and testing.

The nRF24LE1 development kit comes in three variants, one for each package type. The SDK includes full support for Keil ?Vision IDE, including a plug-in for the nRFProbe hardware debugger. A library of Hardware Abstraction Layers and complete example applications makes it easy for firmware developers to take advantage of all the nRF24LE1's advanced features.

"We see the market for ultra-low power wireless quickly maturing and single chip solutions are going to be a key technology for driving innovation and growth," adds Geir Langeland, director of sales and marketing at Nordic. "We have been working closely with key customers in several different market segments to define and develop the nRF24LE1. The result is a solution that enables our customers to take their products to the next level by simultaneously leveraging the ultralow power operation, small package size, powerful MCU and embedded flash technology of this chip."

Engineering samples of the nRF24LE1 and development tools are available. The nRF24LE1 is priced at $1.95 in 10,000-unit shipments.

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