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The nRF52840 is designed to support the latest Bluetooth wireless technology Core Specification, Bluetooth 5, that will shortly be officially adopted by the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG). Bluetooth 5 introduces longer range and throughput improvements that significantly enhance Bluetooth wireless technology’s suitability for smart home, wearables, and IoT applications.
Compliance with the specification, coupled with increased maximum output power (+8dBm), enables the nRF52840 SoC to deliver Bluetooth low energy wireless connectivity with up to 4x the range or 2x the raw data bandwidth (2Mbps) compared with the previous Bluetooth low energy implementation of Bluetooth 4.2.
In addition to Bluetooth 5 support, the nRF52840 SoC includes an IEEE 802.15.4 wireless technology capability. IEEE 802.15.4 forms the basis of smart home technologies such as ZigBee and Thread (with additional upper layers not defined by the standard). IEEE 802.15.4 can also be employed as a Network Adaptation Layer with 6LoWPAN and standard Internet Protocols. The nRF52840 SoC’s support for IEEE 802.15.4 significantly extends the product’s capability as an interoperable foundation technology for IoT, smart home, or industrial sensor wireless networks using several different wireless technologies.
The nRF52840 SoC has been engineered to build on the mature architecture of Nordic Semiconductor’s existing nRF52 Series of SoCs to support complex Bluetooth low energy and other low-power wireless applications that were previously not possible with a single-chip solution. The nRF52840 SoC employs the proven 64MHz, 32-bit ARM® Cortex™ M4F processor employed on Nordic’s existing nRF52832 SoC, plus a CPU with ample generic processing power, Floating Point, and DSP performance to meet the demands of even the most demanding wireless applications.
The nRF52840 SoC’s hardware enhancements compared with the nRF52832 SoC include a new radio architecture with output power increased to a maximum of +8dBm to boost the link budget to >110dB; a doubling of Flash memory to 1MB and quadrupling of RAM memory to 256kB; support for Bluetooth 5, IEEE 802.15.4, ANT, and proprietary 2.4GHz wireless technologies; a full speed (12Mbps) USB 2.0 controller; and a host of new peripherals (many with EasyDMA) including a quad SPI interface. This nRF52840 SoC can also operate from power supplies above 5V such as re-chargeable battery power sources.
Designed to address the inherent security challenges faced in IoT applications, the nRF52840 SoC incorporates an ARM CryptoCell-310 co-processor offering best-in-class security for Cortex-M based SoCs. Nordic says extensive crypto ciphers and key generation and storage options are also available.
The introduction of the nRF52840 SoC will be accompanied by the release of the Nordic Semiconductor S140 SoftDevice, the company’s latest addition to its family of RF protocol software ‘stacks’. The S140 SoftDevice is a Bluetooth 5 compliant software stack with support for the long range and high throughput features of Bluetooth 5.