Bluetooth LE/Bluetooth 5 modules provide OEMs with extended link budget for developing long range IoT solutions

 Laird Connectivity's nRF52840 SoC-powered BL654 Series modules

The module enables OEMs to utilize Bluetooth 5 for secure, extended range in IoT product designs

The Nordic nRF52840 SoC-powered BL654 Series from Laird Connectivity incorporates a power-amplified module and a USB adapter variant for industrial, commercial, and medical applications

Nordic Semiconductor today announces that Laird Connectivity, an Akron, Ohio-based wireless technology company, has selected Nordic’s nRF52840 Bluetooth® 5/Bluetooth Low Energy (Bluetooth LE) advanced multiprotocol System-on-Chip (SoC) to power two products in its ‘BL654 Series’, the power-amplified ‘BL654 PA module’, and the ‘BL654 USB Adapter’.

The BL654 PA module comes in a 22 by 10 by 2.2mm form factor and enables OEMs to utilize Bluetooth 5 for secure, extended range in IoT product designs. The integrated nRF52840 SoC provides full Bluetooth 5 support including 2x on-air raw data bandwidth (2Mbps); 4x range; 8x broadcasting ability with advertising extensions that increase the advertising packet payload size to 251 bytes, and an improved channel coexistence algorithm compared with Bluetooth 4.2. The nRF52840 SoC’s new radio architecture with on-chip PA provides -95dBm RX sensitivity (at 1Mbps in Bluetooth LE mode), a maximum output power of 8dBm, and a total link budget of 103dBm. In the Laird Connectivity module, the SoC’s sensitivity is boosted by the Skyworks PA/LNA to -98.5dBm (at 1Mbps in Bluetooth LE mode) with maximum output power of +18dBm for a link budget of 116.5dBm. The increase in link budget further boosts the module’s range.

The BL654 USB Adapter is a production packaged and fully certified version of Laird Connectivity’s standard BL654 module series utilizing the nRF52840 SoC. It comes in an 18.39 by 50.74 by 11mm form factor with an integrated antenna and the ability to support applications directly developed with either Nordic’s nRF5 SDK or Zephyr, for true production roll outs of end devices supporting a USB port. The BL654 USB Adapter is a complete multiprotocol embedded wireless solution with exceptional processing capability supported by the Nordic SoC’s 64MHz, 32-bit Arm® Cortex® M4F processor with a 2.4GHz multiprotocol radio (supporting Bluetooth 5, ANT™, Thread, Zigbee, IEEE 802.15.4, and proprietary 2.4GHz RF protocol software) with 1MB Flash memory and 256kB RAM. The nRF52840 is the only SoC able to concurrently support Bluetooth 5, Thread, and IEEE 802.15.4 protocols.

Both the BL654 PA module and BL654 USB Adapter are qualified over the full industrial –40º to 85º C operating temperature range and are designed to serve various applications such as IoT devices and sensors, beacons and proximity applications, secure medical peripherals, industrial monitoring, and Bluetooth mesh. They provide maximum development flexibility and enable OEMs to maintain stable, robust Bluetooth LE connections in harsh RF environments and use cases. 
The nRF52840 has the best mix of features and capabilities for the industrial, commercial, and medical markets we serve
Jonathan Kaye, Laird Connectivity
The nRF52840 multiprotocol 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 nRF52840 is Bluetooth 5-, Thread 1.1-, and Zigbee PRO (R21) and Green Power proxy specification-certified and its Dynamic Multiprotocol feature uniquely supports concurrent wireless connectivity of the protocols. Designed to address the inherent security challenges that are faced in IoT, the nRF52840 SoC incorporates the Arm CryptoCell-310 cryptographic accelerator, offering best-in-class security.

The SoC is supplied with Nordic’s S140 SoftDevice, a Bluetooth 5-certified software protocol stack for building long range and high data Bluetooth LE applications. The S140 SoftDevice offers concurrent Central, Peripheral, Broadcaster, and Observer Bluetooth LE roles, and supports high throughput and long range modes as well as advertising extensions. OpenThread and Zigbee stacks are available through Nordic’s nRF5 SDK for Thread and Zigbee.

“We selected Nordic’s nRF52840 SoC for our BL654 Series modules because the chip has the best mix of features and capabilities for the industrial, commercial, and medical markets we serve,” says Jonathan Kaye, Senior Director, Product Management at Laird Connectivity. 

“As a module vendor that supplies thousands of customers in such a wide array of end applications, we value the flexibility of the nRF52840 SoC to suit a majority of use cases. From a software perspective, the chip’s multiprotocol support, Nordic’s SoftDevice, and the support for Zephyr RTOS also played a role in our decision to use it.”