STMicroelectronics has designed its new BlueNRG-1 programmable System-on-Chip (SoC) to satisfy high-volume opportunities in the growing Bluetooth Low Energy market through the combination of superior energy efficiency and strong radio performance.

Shipments of IoT products that support Bluetooth Low Energy should increase 34% to 2021 (CAGR), reaching close to 1.4 billion units, according to ABI Research, aided by proliferation of Bluetooth-enabled tablets and smartphones that provide a convenient user interface for interacting with Bluetooth Low Energy devices.

Bluetooth Low Energy devices must ensure energy-efficient operation, including extremely low power consumption in sleep and standby modes that are used frequently to maximise battery life. Strong radio performance is also needed to advertise availability and connect reliably.

The integrated radio transceiver of BlueNRG-1 is power-efficient in the modes frequently used by devices such as beacons when setting up short-duration connections for exchanges like sharing offers with shoppers’ smartphones. BlueNRG-1’s ability to transition quickly between power-saving and active modes extends battery life from months to years. In addition, RF-output power is boosted to +8dBm to ensure clear and reliable communication for optimum efficiency, even in noisy environments.

“The success of many new applications in the retail, connected home, automotive, industrial, medical, or ePayment segments will notably depend on the quality of user experience, which will demand efficient Bluetooth Low Energy solutions,” said Benedetto Vigna, executive vice president, Analogue and MEMS Group, STMicroelectronics.

BLE SoC 01

The BlueNRG-1 single-core SoC features the 32MHz 32-bit ARM Cortex-M0 and delivers ample performance per milliwatt. 160KByte of on-chip Flash memory provides application-code and data storage besides the possibility to upgrade the ST Bluetooth Low Energy firmware stack. ST has also blended proven ultra-low-power design, including support for fast wake-up and sleep transitions, and unrivalled sub-1µA standby current.

In addition to efficient performance and low power consumption, BlueNRG-1 also offers value-added features that make device designers’ lives easier. These include a dedicated digital-microphone input that simplifies voice-enabled applications and 105°C maximum operating temperature suitable for smart-lighting and automotive applications, such as passive-entry-passive-start or on board-diagnostic devices. Support for the latest Bluetooth Low Energy version 4.2 specification ensures advanced privacy and security.

BlueNRG-1 is scheduled to enter volume production in late July 2016 and will be available in two package styles. Budgetary pricing is $1.50 for BlueNRG-132 in 5mm x 5mm QFN-32 package, and $1.45 for BlueNRG-134 in 2.7mm x 2.6mm WLCSP-34 for space-constrained applications.