Multi-mode SiP from Nordic Semiconductor is low power for the IoT

In Oslo, Norway, Nordic Semiconductor previewed its nRF91 series. The compact, low power, multi-mode LTE-M/Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) system in package (SiP) has an integrated Arm Cortex-M33 host processor, Arm TrustZone security technology, and assisted GPS.

It was demonstrated operating on the Verizon wireless network in the US and on the Telia network in Norway.

Explaining the reason behind the series, Nordic says that today cellular is associated with the high data rates of smartphones and tablets. The nRF91 series aims to take cellular beyond just mobile devices, and to widen the applicability of cellular connectivity to devices. The nRF91 series sets new benchmarks in terms of integration, size, and power consumption, says Nordic. It is also easy to use, to “unleash the huge potential of cellular in IoT”.

The nRF91 SiP is based on Nordic’s nRF91 Series low power cellular IoT SoC. Jointly developed by Nordic’s cellular design team in Finland, and low power experts in Norway, the chip was developed to optimise the power, cost, and size savings enabled by the new LTE-M and NB-IoT cellular standards.

The nRF91 series centres on an integrated, low power, global multi-mode LTE-M/NB-IoT system in package (SiP). The SiP integrates a complete, low power, cellular IoT system into a tiny 10 x 16 x 1.2mm package that integrates modem, transceiver, RF front end, dedicated application processor, flash memory, power management, and crystal and passive components. The level of integration allows the nRF91 SiP to combine all the benefits of traditional cellular modules, including tele-regulatory and cellular certifications, with ease-of-use and what is claimed to be the smallest form factor to date in the cellular industry.

Nordic partnered with Qorvo for the RF front end, the SiP development and manufacturing. The SiP, for example, uses Qorvo’s RF front-end, advanced packaging, and MicroShield technology for a small footprint device with low power consumption. The nRF91 series supports global operation with a single SiP variant by virtue of the combination of Nordic’s multimode LTE-M/NB-IoT modem, SAW-less transceiver, and a custom RF front-end solution from Qorvo. 

The nRF91 is also described as taking security for low power IoT devices to new heights by combining the inherent security of cellular connectivity with an Arm Cortex-M33 processor and Arm CryptoCell 310 security IP to make application hardware and software secure.

The built-in host processor features TrustZone for Armv8-M, helping secure application data, firmware, and peripherals using an isolated, trusted execution environment across the CPU and system. This solution provides an efficient security foundation, and reduces size, bill of materials, and power consumption when compared with using an external host processor.

The nRF91 SiP also features built-in support for positioning via an integrated assisted GPS (A-GPS) that combines cellular and GPS technology to deliver fast and accurate positioning.

The Nordic Semiconductor nRF91 series includes a suite of software and development tools.

Nordic is sampling nRF91 to selected lead customers now. General sampling is planned to start mid-2018, with first production quantities available by end of 2018. The nRF91 SIP will be available in variants with and without integrated GPS.

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