LTE-M development board enables rapid prototyping of cellular IoT products


Braveridge’s FBV-EVK-N9160 SonicBoard employs Nordic’s nRF9160 SiP to help engineers cut development lead time

Nordic Semiconductor today announces that Braveridge, a Fukuoka City, Japan-based IoT solutions company, has selected Nordic’s nRF9160 low power System-in-Package (SiP) with integrated LTE-M/NB-IoT modem and GPS to power its ‘FBV-EVK-N9160 SonicBoard’. The SonicBoard is a development kit (DK) designed to help firmware engineers and developers of cellular IoT-based solutions rapidly prototype and deliver products to market faster and more economically.

Feature-rich development board

Supplied in 80 by 173.5 by 14mm form factor, the SonicBoard incorporates a host of building block peripherals including a full color LED, press and hold reset, a USB-UART bridge, a digital microphone and I2S input D-class amplifier, as well as 2MB external RAM accessible via QSPI. Flexible power options are provided via a built-in Li-Po battery charger controller block, and USB and external power supply inputs. Sensors are not directly mounted on the SonicBoard; developers are free to select only the sensor DKs suitable for their specific application, and simply connect them to the development board as needed.

The SiP’s dedicated application processor is revolutionary in LTE-M product development
Yasunari Kohashi, Braveridge

Software libraries have been made freely available, while the circuit diagram of SonicBoard has been released as a Quadcept project file. This enables users to edit the file directly, as well as develop with the SonicBoard and later merge the design with other prototype boards developed on Quadcept. 

The nRF9160 SiP is certified for global cellular IoT applications and comprises a multimode LTE-M/NB-IoT modem with integrated RF front end (RFFE), GPS, and power management in a compact package. The 64MHz Arm® Cortex®-M33 processor includes 1MB Flash and 256kB 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 2200MHz LTE band support, 23dBm 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. 

The nRF9160 SiP is optimized for low power operation, supporting PSM and eDRX power saving modes. For example, in PSM mode, uploading 1kB every 12 hours, the average current is 5.5µA. When in sleep mode the average current is ~2µA. Target applications for the nRF9160 SiP include asset tracking, smart city, smart agriculture, industrial, smart metering, wearables, and medical solutions.

Dedicated application processor

“With the advent of Nordic’s nRF9160 SiP, the development lead time for LTE-M projects can be shortened dramatically, and we strongly believe it will become mainstream,” says Yasunari Kohashi, Braveridge, CEO. “The SiP’s dedicated application processor is revolutionary in LTE-M product development, while its size, price, availability, level of integration and multimode capability are at the forefront of technology.

“From a software perspective, engineers who are used to developing firmware are able to do so easily using the supported Zephyr real time operating system [RTOS], which greatly reduces issues arising from firmware bugs or unforeseen events.”

The company has also announced the release of its ‘FBV-EVK-CN52840CFSLR’ and ‘FBV-EVK-CN5210S’ SonicBoards, respectively employing Nordic nRF52840 multiprotocol SoC- and nRF52810 multiprotocol SoC-powered Braveridge modules to provide Bluetooth Low Energy (Bluetooth LE) wireless connectivity.