Nordic-powered module supports low power edge processing applications

a hand holding a circuit board

Silicon Witchery’s S1 Bluetooth-FPGA System On Module employs Nordic nRF52811 SoC as main network processor

Sweden-based Silicon Witchery has developed a powerful new module based on Nordic’s nRF52811 SoC. The ultra-small form factor (6 by 12 mm) ‘S1 Bluetooth-FPGA System On Module’ supports tiny battery-powered products and is primarily designed for edge processing applications requiring demanding algorithms while consuming limited energy. Target applications include wearables, medical research devices, and various consumer products. 

The S1 Module is the first wireless module that combines Nordic’s nRF52811 SoC with a field-programmable gate array (FPGA), according to the company. FPGAs have long been used for implementing fast DSP, but are now becoming popular for implementing neural networks that typically require immense computing power. As FPGA I/O interfaces are designed to be incredibly fast, there is little constraint on the types of sensors that can be connected.

The nRF52811 SoC was the only device that could give us the tiny form factor we needed, while still providing plenty of headroom for user applications
Raj Nakarja, Silicon Witchery. 

Main network processor

The nRF52811 SoC functions as the S1 Module’s main network processor. The SoC also manages the system power, output rails, and sleep functions of the FPGA. It can quickly start and stop the FPGA, reconfigure the FPGA’s binary file, and manage stored data. FPGAs are ideal for aggregating large amounts of data into smaller, more manageable payloads. This data can then be transmitted using the nRF52811 SoC-enabled Bluetooth® LE connectivity. 

The S1 integrates an advanced power management IC (PMIC) which includes a single cell Li-Po charger. The nRF52811 SoC has full control of the PMIC and can adjust parameters for customer applications where power consumption is paramount. 

“The nRF52811 SoC was the only device that could give us the tiny form factor we needed, while still providing plenty of headroom for user applications,” says Raj Nakarja, Chief Engineer & CEO, Silicon Witchery. 

Mature software

“The maturity of Nordic's software was also a key part of our decision. With so many projects and examples available, no other family of wireless devices is as easy to develop with as the Nordic nRF52 Series.

“In addition, Nordic has long been a company we could rely on and with vast amounts of technical knowledge, we’ve learned a great deal over the years about building quality systems through the company’s products.”