Bluetooth Low Energy software

Supporting all your Bluetooth Low Energy development

Your development options

Comprehensive, robust and scalable solutions

Full Bluetooth features now with scope for future demands

Like mentioned in the software overview page, depending on which SoC you want to develop for, there are two options: the nRF5 SDK with Nordic's Bluetooth protocol stack (aka SoftDevices) or the nRF Connect SDK.

The nRF5 SDK is very mature and is used on millions of products to date. It is qualified to Bluetooth 5.1 and supports all of the Bluetooth features up to and including Bluetooth 5. Read below for more information. It supports all Nordic SoCs up to and including the nRF52 Series.

The nRF Connect SDK includes the Zephyr Real Time Operating System (RTOS) and is a scalable solution that will support the future Bluetooth features, for example Bluetooth Direction Finding and Bluetooth LE Audio. It supports the nRF5340 and all nRF52 Series for Bluetooth LE development.

The Nordic difference

Bluetooth product development needs both great software and great hardware

You need both great software and great hardware
We understand that a rich selection of well-tested, reliable software forms an integral part of designing your wireless product.
Our unrivalled selection of SDK examples, robust and predictable communication stacks and development software will help you achieve success in line with your project’s goals.

Software you can rely on
All software we distribute for your application is developed by Nordic and tested in-house. Any open-source code that we re-distribute comes from projects we contribute to and ensures the quality of the solution on Nordic devices. This means we always have control of the features we offer and the testing procedures that deliver quality.

Bluetooth Low Energy software
We offer two types of software for developing your application:

Protocol stacks: We call them SoftDevices
Software development kits (SDKs): General purpose and for specific application areas

The software development kits for nRF52 and nRF51 Series and the range of SoftDevices are designed to work together seamlessly, offering you as a developer an easy-to-use solution for building wireless applications.

Features and performance

Advanced Bluetooth connectivity options, enhanced throughput, longer range

Get full value from Bluetooth and multiprotocol performance

Our Bluetooth software offering is always at the forefront of what is possible with Bluetooth.
Today, we offer Bluetooth stacks and software support for the performance improvements in Bluetooth 5.
We support these with multiprotocol stacks that combine Bluetooth Low Energy with Bluetooth mesh, Thread, Zigbee, ANT, 802.15.4 and 2.4 GHz proprietary.
It all adds up to the most feature-rich, powerful Bluetooth software solution available.

Bluetooth 5 Throughput & Topologies Multiprotocol
2Mbps 1.4 Mbps net throughput   Protocol concurrency 
Long range mode 20 concurrent connections
Bluetooth 5 / Bluetooth mesh / Thread / 802.15.4 / ANT / 2.4 GHz
Increased broadcast capacity Concurrent multirole
Improved coexistence Advanced Network Topologies  

Software architecture

Engineered for performance, energy efficiency and ease of use

The Nordic software architecture is unique. It is designed to make developing Bluetooth applications as simple and intuitive as possible, whilst also maintaining consistent and reliable performance at all levels.

There is a fundamental split in how the software architecture is made up, this is between the protocol stack and associated radio management functions, and the application itself.

This means less complicated application code and more reliable operation as you run through develop and compile iterations.

Your application which will usually incorporate elements of our nRF5 SDK interfaces to the protocol stack, known as a SoftDevice, via an API.

The SoftDevice is is event-driven and has no runtime dependencies.



Bluetooth protocol stacks

Stable, predictable operation and Bluetooth qualified

Explore our high-performance protocol stacks
Nordic SoftDevices are Bluetooth protocol stacks that are pre-compiled binaries without run-time dependencies.
This allows developers to design their applications interaction with the SoftDevice such that they experience predictable and reliable operation.

A stable hardware helper
Because SoftDevices are complete and qualified when we deliver them, they are unaffected by the ‘develop and compile’ cycle of application development and always remain stable. Developers can rest assured that they cannot introduce a stack bug somewhere in the development cycle.

SoftDevice feature comparison

SoftDevice S112 S113  S122  S132 S140
Compatible SoCs nRF52805, nRF52810, nRF52811, nRF52820, nRF52832 nRF52805, nRF52810, nRF52811, nRF52820, nRF52832, nRF52833, nRF52840 nRF52811, nRF52820, nRF52833 nRF52810, nRF52832 nRF52811, nRF52820, nRF52833, nRF52840
Bluetooth 5.1 qualified Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
High-throughput 2 Mbps  Yes Yes Yes Yes
Long Range

Advertising Extensions 

  Yes Yes
CSA #2 Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Roles Peripheral + Broadcaster Peripheral + Broadcaster  Central + Observer All roles All roles
Links 4 concurrent 4 concurrent 8 concurrent 20 concurrent 20 concurrent
Configurable roles/bandwidth Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
LE Secure connections Yes  Yes Yes Yes Yes 
Privacy 1.2 Yes  Yes Yes Yes Yes
LE Packet Length Extensions 
Yes Yes
Configurable ATT MTU  Yes  Yes Yes Yes
Custom UUID Yes  Yes Yes Yes
L2CAP CoC No  Yes
Yes Yes
Configurable ATT table Yes  Yes Yes Yes Yes


Feature-rich Bluetooth LE protocol stack

For the nRF52 Series

SoftDevice S140

SoftDevice S140 is a feature-rich Central and Peripheral Bluetooth LE protocol stack for the nRF52811, nRF52820, nRF52833 and nRF52840 SoCs.

Bluetooth 5.1 qualified
High-throughput 2 Mbps
Long Range
Advertising Extensions
CSA #2
LE Secure Connections
Privacy 1.2
Configurable ATT Table
Configurable ATT MTU
Custom UUID
LE Data Packet Length Extension
L2CAP connection-oriented channels
Concurrent multiprotocol support

ANT + Bluetooth LE protocol stacks

For the nRF52 Series

ANT + Bluetooth LE protocol stack

For the nRF51 Series

S310: Bluetooth 4.1 and ANT

The S310 is a combined Peripheral Bluetooth LE and ANT protocol stack for the nRF51422 that supports concurrent operation and all ANT features. It is distributed and Bluetooth qualified by Garmin Canada, Inc.

15 individual configurable channels
Broadcast, acknowledged, burst transfer
Device search, pairing and proximity
Advanced burst transfer mode

Concurrent link as a Peripheral and Broadcaster

Configurable ATT Table

Privacy 1.1

Security mode 1 - Levels 1, 2 and 3

Custom UUID support

Support for concurrent multi-protocol with 2.4 GHz proprietary protocols

nRF51 Series

SoftDevice feature comparison

 SoftDevice S110  S120 S130
Supported SoC  nRF51422, nRF51822 nRF51422, nRF51822 nRF51422, nRF51822
Bluetooth 5  No No No
2 Mbps   No No No
Long range  No No No
Advertising Extensions   No No No
CSA #2  No No No
 Roles  Peripheral + Broadcaster All roles All roles
Links  1 8 concurrent as central or 1 as peripheral 8 concurrent as central and 1 as peripheral
Configurable roles/bandwidth  No No Yes
LE Secure connections  No No Yes
LL Privacy   No No No
LE Packet Length Extensions   No No No
Configurable ATT MTU   No No No
Custom UUID  Yes Yes
L2CAP CoC  No No No
Configurable ATT table  No No No



The nRF5 SDK

Click to read more and download


The Bluetooth LE and ANT software development kit

The nRF5 SDK is a high quality, thoroughly tested software development kit to accelerate your software development efforts for the nRF52 and nRF51 Series SoCs. It contains hundreds of useful firmware modules and examples to assist in building your application.

Dedicated SDKs

For specific application areas

Combined with the nRF5 Series wireless SoCs, these independent SDKs offer developers a complete solution for application development in Bluetooth Mesh, Thread, Zigbee, Airfuel and HomeKit.

Due to licensing restrictions, the nRF5 SDK for Airfuel is only available to Airfuel members and the nRF5 SDK for HomeKit is only available to MFI licensees.

Bluetooth mesh

Software development kit

nRF5 SDK for Mesh

The nRF5 SDK for mesh is ideal for developing applications that use Bluetooth mesh networks . It is a richly featured SDK for building sophisticated solutions with Bluetooth mesh.

Thread and Zigbee

Software development kit

nRF5 SDK for Thread and Zigbee

nRF5 SDK for Thread and Zigbee is a complete solution  for building Thread 1.1 and Zigbee 3.0 certified products. It utilizes the the multiprotocol capabilities of the nRF52833 and nRF52840 wireless SoCs. This enables single-chip application development supporting both Bluetooth LE and Thread or Zigbee, concurrently. It also has limited support for the nRF52811.

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