Bluetooth portfolio aims to cut power use & development time

25th February 2015
Posted By : Barney Scott
Bluetooth portfolio aims to cut power use & development time

Silicon Labs has unveiled a complete Bluetooth Smart solutions portfolio designed to help developers minimise the energy consumption, cost and complexity of wireless IoT designs. Silicon Labs’ recent acquisition of Bluegiga, a leading supplier of wireless modules and software, accelerates the company’s ability to deliver comprehensive Bluetooth Smart solutions.

Silicon Labs’ Blue Gecko solutions include ultra-low-power wireless SoCs, embedded modules, and Bluegiga’s SDK and Bluetooth Smart software stack. Blue Gecko wireless SoCs and modules help developers simplify design and speed time to market for a wide range of applications for the connected home, health and fitness, wearables, automotive, consumer electronics, audio and industrial automation markets.

The Blue Gecko portfolio addresses the largest, fastest-growing low-power wireless connectivity opportunity in the IoT market. According to IHS Technology, Bluetooth Smart will represent 42% of the total low-power wireless module and chipset market by unit volume in 2018. A significant number of Bluetooth Smart chipsets are currently used in wireless modules to meet the needs of low-volume IoT applications, greatly simplifying RF design. By the end of the decade, the use of cost-effective Bluetooth Smart chipsets and wireless SoCs is expected to outpace modules as many IoT applications reach higher volumes. Silicon Labs’ Blue Gecko portfolio provides developers with the flexibility to begin development with modules and transition to SoCs when needed with little to no system redesign.

The first in a family of wireless SoCs optimised for IoT applications, Blue Gecko SoCs combine Silicon Labs’ energy-friendly EFM32 Gecko MCU technology with an ultra-low-power Bluetooth Smart transceiver. This single-die solution provides excellent energy efficiency, fast wake-up times, superior RF sensitivity and no-compromise MCU features, combined with the Bluegiga Bluetooth Smart software stack to help developers reduce system power, cost and time to market. Unlike other Bluetooth Smart IC alternatives, a Blue Gecko SoC can transmit +10dBm or higher output power with its integrated power amplifier and balun, further reducing design complexity.

Blue Gecko SoCs are based on the ARM Cortex-M3 and M4 cores and offer 128 to 256kB flash sizes and 16 to 32kB RAM sizes. The SoCs integrate an array of low-energy peripherals as well as Silicon Labs’ Peripheral Reflex System (PRS) for autonomous peripheral operation. The Blue Gecko SoC family also offers a roadmap of enhanced flash and RAM memory sizes and additional package options to meet future application needs.

Bluegiga modules based on Blue Gecko SoCs are designed to help developers accelerate time-to market and reduce development costs and compliance risks by providing a pre-certified, plug-and-play RF design. Bluegiga Bluetooth Smart modules incorporate all features of Blue Gecko SoCs and are certified for use in all key markets including North America, Europe, Japan and South Korea. Bluegiga modules include the Bluegiga Bluetooth Smart software stack and profile toolkit and come with 256 kB flash and 32 kB RAM, providing ample available memory for onboard applications.

Flexible hardware interfaces enable easy connection to a variety of peripherals and sensors, and an integrated antenna makes RF operation consistent and straightforward for the design engineer. Bluegiga Bluetooth Smart modules provide very low power operation, enabling wireless system designs to be powered from a standard 3V coin cell battery or two AAA batteries.

To simplify wireless development, Silicon Labs offers the complete Bluegiga Bluetooth Smart software stack for Blue Gecko modules and wireless SoCs. The stack implements the Bluetooth Smart protocol layers including the Attribute Protocol (ATT), the Generic Attribute Profile (GATT), the Generic Access Protocol (GAP), a security manager and connection management.

The Blue Gecko portfolio includes a comprehensive wireless SDK for developing Bluetooth Smart applications using either a host or fully standalone applications through the easy-to-use Bluegiga BGScript scripting language. BGScript enables developers to create applications quickly without using external MCUs to run the application logic, enabling them to reduce cost, simplify their designs and get to market faster. Bluetooth Smart application profiles and examples are also available to help streamline development.

“Our new Blue Gecko portfolio gives developers a rapid on-ramp to the IoT, enabling them to bring Bluetooth Smart-enabled products to market quickly while maintaining their investments in tools and software as they migrate from modules to chips for later production,” said James Stansberry, Senior Vice President and General Manager, IoT products, Silicon Labs. “Our Bluegiga acquisition provided a best-of-breed scripting language and protocol stack that we’re leveraging in our Blue Gecko portfolio, making it easy to add Bluetooth Smart connectivity to countless IoT applications.”

Samples of Bluegiga modules based on Blue Gecko SoCs are planned to be available in late Q2 2015. Samples of Blue Gecko wireless SoCs are planned to be available in early Q3 in a choice of 5x5mm QFN32 and 7x7mm QFN48 packages. Pricing for Blue Gecko-based Bluegiga modules begins at $4.99 in 10,000-unit quantities. Blue Gecko SoC pricing begins at $0.99 in 100,000-unit quantities. The Bluegiga SDK and Bluetooth Smart software stack will be available to Silicon Labs’ customers at no charge.


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