Renesas, TI square up over Bluetooth LE

Renesas, TI square up over Bluetooth LE

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By Nick Flaherty

Renesas Electronics and Texas Instruments (TI) have both launched Bluetooth wireless microcontrollers for the Internet of Things (IoT) and wearable and medical designs. 

TI has launched its fourth generation of Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) wireless microcontroller with  target cost of 79c, while Renesas has launched a dual core device with 2D graphics processor.

The CC2340 uses the ARM Cortex M0+ core and measures 4 x4 mm in the smallest QFN package, although TI is also planning a version in chip scale packaging. The chip is made on a 60nm CMOS process with production in the US at TI and at external foundries, says Nick Smith, product marketing manager at TI. “The aim is to get Bluetooth everywhere,” he said.

“Industrywide, 5 billion Bluetooth enabled devices are forecast to ship in 2022,” said Mark Powell, CEO of the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG), the standards organization that oversees Bluetooth technology. “The commitment and involvement of Bluetooth SIG members like Texas Instruments allow Bluetooth technology to meet the growing demands for enhanced wireless connectivity in a wider range of applications. I am grateful for the contributions of our membership in delivering innovative solutions that benefit the Bluetooth ecosystem and help broaden the adoption of Bluetooth technology.”

Renesas has also launched a device to take advantage of this boom in demand. The SmartBond DA1470x family of Bluetooth low energy (LE) chips builds on the designs from the acquisition of Dialog Semiconductor to add more integration rather than drive down the cost.

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The DA1470x integrates a power management unit, a hardware voice activity detector (VAD) and Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) for smart IoT devices with sensor and graphical capabilities and always-on audio processing in the same applications of wearables like smartwatches and fitness trackers; glucose monitor readers and other consumer medical and healthcare devices; home appliances with displays; industrial automation and security systems.

“The DA1470x family expands on our successful strategy of integrating more functions, including greater processing power, expanded memory and improved power modules, along with VAD for always-on wake and command word detection,” said Sean McGrath, Vice President of the Connectivity and Audio Business Division in Renesas’ IoT, Industrial and Infrastructure Business Unit.

The high level of integration further results in significant cost savings on the Bill of Materials (BoM) and reduces component count on the PCB enabling smaller form factor designs and freeing up space for additional components or larger batteries.

The main processor is an ARM Cortex M33 processor with a Cortex M0+ as the sensor node controller. The integrated 2D GPU & Display controller supporting DPI, JDI parallel, DBI and Single/Dual/Quad SPI interfaces and the configurable MAC supporting Bluetooth LE 5.2 and proprietary 2.4 GHz protocols with a MIPI I3C interface controller running at 12.5 MHz.

An integrated 720mA JEITA-compliant USB charger supports rechargeable Li-ion/Li-Po batteries and a low quiescent current SIMO DC/DC converter of the PMU supplies internal system and external components.

The chip is packaged in a 6.2 x 6mm BGA and includes 1.5 MB of data SRAM with retention, 4 kB One-Time-Programmable (OTP) memory for secure key storage, 8 kB ICache SRAM with retention and 8 kB DCache SRAM with retention as well as a 32 kB ROM for boot code and PKI routines. The RF power runs up to +6dB.

TI CC2340 chip

In contrast, TI’s  CC2340R2 and CC2340R5 wireless MCUs cuts the size and cost with flash memory of 256KB and 512KB with 36KB of RAM with over-the-air download support.

The devices include standby current of less than 830 nA, which is 40 percent lower than competing devices. The reduction in standby current to around 120nA helps extend battery life for up to 10 years on a coin cell battery in wireless applications such as electronic shelf labels and tire pressure monitoring systems. The CC2340 family also features an operating temperature range of –40ºC to 125ºC to help ensure a stable connection across applications, from industrial sensors and medical laboratories to outdoor environments such as EV chargers or smart meters.

Engineers are also able to expand RF performance and connection range with an output power up to +8 dBm and an integrated RF balun to enable a simpler design with fewer external components, leading to cost savings. The chip supports 2.4GHz 802.15.4 protocols such as Thread but does not have enough memory for the Matter IoT protocol. Versions with more memory are planned says Smith.

At embedded world this week, engineers can use the SimpleLink CC2340 LaunchPad development kit to establish a Bluetooth LE connection in two minutes or less.

To get started with the CC2340 wireless MCUs, customers can request samples as well as a development kit (LP-EM-CC2340R5) priced at US$39. The new wireless MCUs are expected to be in volume production in the first half of 2023.

Pricing for the CC2340 family will start as low as US$0.79 for 1,000-unit quantities.;




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