Nordic-powered Thread development kits aid rapid design of Cloud-connected mesh networks 

Particle, Thread, development kit

‘Particle Mesh’ platform employs Nordic’s nRF52840 advanced multiprotocol SoC for OpenThread (IEEE 802.15.4) mesh networking and Cloud connectivity, and Bluetooth Low Energy for smartphone connectivity to enable mesh node configuration

Nordic Semiconductor today announces that Particle, the most widely used Internet of Things (IoT) platform, has selected Nordic’s nRF52840 advanced Bluetooth® Low Energy (Bluetooth LE)/ANT/802.15.4/ 2.4GHz proprietary System-on-Chip (SoC) for its ‘Particle Mesh’ suite, an end-to-end mesh networking development platform.

The Particle Mesh platform enables developers to quickly construct mesh networks comprising IEEE 802.15.4 nodes running OpenThread, an open-source version of Thread. (Thread is a low power wireless connectivity specification which includes robust security, reliability, scalability, and support for developer-friendly IP-based (IPv6 with 6LoWPAN) mesh networking.) Particle Mesh includes three IoT gateway variants, the ‘Argon’ (supporting Wi-Fi/ Mesh/Bluetooth LE), the ‘Boron’ (LTE M1 and NB1/Mesh/Bluetooth LE), and the ‘Xenon’ (Mesh/Bluetooth LE), which enable low power wireless sensor mesh networks to connect to the Internet.

The nRF52840 SoC is a Bluetooth 5 (Bluetooth LE)- and Thread 1.1-certified wireless solution and is the only multiprotocol SoC on the market that offers concurrent Bluetooth 5 and Thread support. The capability is enabled by the SoC’s Bluetooth LE and Thread ‘Dynamic Multiprotocol’ feature which simultaneously supports Nordic's S140 v5 SoftDevice (a Bluetooth LE protocol stack) and the OpenThread RF protocol stack.

The nRF52840 SoC’s 32-bit Arm® Cortex® M4F processor, 1MB Flash memory, and 256kB RAM ensure the Particle Mesh development kits can support the most complex wireless applications while the SoC’s Arm CryptoCell-310 cryptographic accelerator ensures secure Over-the-Air Device Firmware Updates (OTA-DFU).
Because we needed both Thread and Bluetooth LE support, Nordic’s nRF52840 SoC was an ideal choice for our new Particle Mesh hardware solutions.
William Hart, Particle

The Particle Mesh gateways use the nRF52840 SoC’s Thread capability to communicate with other Thread devices on the mesh network while the Bluetooth LE connectivity allows developers to use Bluetooth 4.0 (and later) smartphones and tablets for mesh set-up, deployment, and diagnostics in the field.

The Particle Mesh development kits are pre-configured to fully integrate with Particle’s ‘Device Cloud’, a unique set of development tools and Cloud infrastructure, to build, connect, and manage mesh networks.

Nordic’s nRF52840 Bluetooth LE SoC is Nordic’s most advanced ultra low power wireless solution. The SoC supports complex Bluetooth LE and other low-power wireless applications that were previously not possible with a single-chip solution. The SoC combines the Arm processor with a 2.4GHz multiprotocol radio architecture featuring -96dB RX sensitivity and an on-chip PA boosting output power to a maximum of 8dBm. The SoC is supplied with the S140 SoftDevice which supports concurrent Central, Peripheral, Broadcaster, and Observer Bluetooth LE roles.

“We selected Thread over other mesh networking solutions because of its maturity in market, ability to scale to large networks, use of open standards, and the availability of open source implementations,” says William Hart, General Manager of Prototyping at Particle. “Bluetooth LE is also a critical component of Particle Mesh and bidirectional communication between a smartphone and the Particle Mesh device to simplify device setup, deployment, and diagnostics. Because we needed both Thread and Bluetooth LE support, Nordic’s nRF52840 SoC was an ideal choice for our new Particle Mesh hardware solutions.

“We’re also excited to be working with the Nordic team, who have provided us with technical information and examples, direct support from design to production, and access to global distribution partners.”