LTE-M/NB-IoT and Bluetooth LE-powered module supports processor-intensive IoT applications in compact package

Avnet module

Avnet’s AVT9152 module integrates both Nordic’s nRF9160 SiP and nRF52840 SoC to enable rapid IoT product development

Nordic Semiconductor today announces that Avnet Asia, a global technology solutions company, has selected Nordic’s nRF9160 low power System-in-Package (SiP) with integrated LTE-M/NB-IoT modem and GPS, and nRF52840 Bluetooth® 5.2/Bluetooth Low Energy (Bluetooth LE) advanced multiprotocol System-on-Chip (SoC) to provide the cellular IoT and short range wireless connectivity for its ‘AVT9152’ module.

The 26 by 28mm AVT9152 module is said to be the smallest module to support LTE-M/NB-IoT, Bluetooth LE and GPS, and can be integrated into a range of embedded applications including beacons for Covid-19 contact tracing, logistics and asset tracking, vending machines, kiosk terminals, medical devices, and smart building automation. 

Complex application support

The Nordic nRF9160 SiP’s Arm Cortex-M33 processor and the SoC’s 64MHz, 32-bit Arm® Cortex® M4 processor with floating point unit (FPU) equip the module with ample computational power to support a range of complex and processor-intensive IoT applications. The module offers a high degree of flexibility and scalability for IoT product development and completing an IoT design can be as straightforward as connecting a power source, sensors, and an antenna to the module. The simple development cycle shortens time-to-market.

Nordic is an industry leader in low power devices
Andy Wong, Avnet Asia

The nRF9160 is a low power SiP, certified for global cellular IoT applications, comprising a multimode LTE-M/NB-IoT modem with integrated RF front end (RFFE), GPS, and power management in a compact package. The 64 MHz processor includes 1 MB Flash and 256 KB RAM, a range of analog and digital peripherals, automated power and clock management, Arm TrustZone™ for trusted execution, and Arm CryptoCell 310 for application layer security. The processor communicates with the LTE modem through a BSD secure sockets API and supports the application layer protocol (for example CoAP, MQTT or LWM2M) and the application itself. The nRF9160 SiP’s LTE modem supports both SIM and eSIM, offers 700 to 2200 MHz LTE band support, 23 dBm output power, and single pin 50 Ω antenna- and UICC-interfaces. The LTE stack layers L1-L3, IPv4/IPv6, TCP/UDP, TLS/DTLS are part of the modem firmware.

Nordic’s nRF52840 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. The SoC combines the Arm 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. A new radio architecture with on-chip PA provides features -95dBm RX sensitivity (at 1Mbps Bluetooth LE), a maximum output power of 8dBm, and a total link budget of 103dBm. The chip supports all the features of Bluetooth 5 (including 4x the range or 2x the raw data bandwidth (2Mbps)) compared with Bluetooth 4.2. Designed to address the inherent security challenges that are faced in IoT, the nRF52840 SoC incorporates the Arm CryptoCell™-310 cryptographic accelerator.

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.

Low power leadership

“Nordic is an industry leader in low power devices,” says Andy Wong, SVP of Avnet Asia’s Design & Solution Services. “We selected the nRF9160 and nRF52840 for a combination of their security features, low power, memory capacity, and small size. The AVT9152 evaluation kit is based on the AVT9152 module and provides a complete device-to-Cloud platform that enables customers to speed up time-to-market and realize their product’s IoT potential.” 

The ‘AVT9152 Evaluation Kit’ provides simplified IoT application development and an end-to-end Cloud connection platform via Avnet’s enterprise ready ‘IoTConnect’ Cloud platform. The evaluation kit features a 3-axis accelerometer, 3-axis gyroscope, as well as pressure, temperature, relative humidity, ambient light, and motion (PIR) sensors.