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u-blox Incorporates Newest Nordic Semiconductor Bluetooth Chips in Two New Modules

Published: May 06,2024

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u-blox has announced two additions to its Bluetooth LE portfolio, ALMA-B1 and NORA-B2. The modules are based on the latest generation nRF54 Series Systems-on-Chip (SoCs) from Nordic Semiconductor. They both support Bluetooth LE 5.4 and Thread/Matter technologies in a compact, power-efficient, and secure format.

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ALMA-B1 and NORA-B2 are designed for a wide range of IoT applications, including industrial automation, healthcare, and smart home. ALMA-B1 is a high-end wireless MCU, while NORA-B2 brings ultra-low power to less complex applications. In the indoor positioning example, ALMA-B1 could act as an anchor point due to its vast processing capabilities, while the power efficiency of NORA-B2 makes it suitable for asset tracking tags.

According to ABI Research*, Bluetooth LE device shipments are expected to roughly double by 2028. At the same time, new applications unleashed by AI / EdgeML and sensor fusion trigger the need for additional and stronger requirements, including higher security, more processing power, and efficient battery consumption.

Powered by the nRF54H20 and the nRF54L15 Nordic low-power multiprotocol SoCs, ALMA-B1 and NORA-B2 provide IoT devices with the processing power for edge computing and machine learning without additional components. With more than twice the processing power of previous Bluetooth LE modules, ALMA-B1 can even replace general-purpose MCUs in a compact solution.

Both modules also offer a significant reduction in power consumption. NORA-B2 consumes up to 50% less current compared to previous generations of Bluetooth LE modules. This translates into smaller batteries or longer battery life in end products.

Designed for PSA Certified Level 3, ALMA-B1 and NORA-B2 provide the highest levels of IoT security. In addition to features like secure boot, secure storage, secure debug interfaces, and hardware crypto accelerators, both modules include next-generation security features like physical tamper detection and protection against side-channel attacks.

The sizes of the modules (10 x 11 mm or 10 x 14 mm) save considerable space and facilitate migration from other u-blox’s modules. Both modules come with global certifications.

“We are thrilled to see Nordic’s latest generation of chipsets, the nRF54 Series, being integrated into these u-blox’s modules. Their full potential will undoubtedly open up a wealth of revolutionary IoT end products that were previously unfeasible. ALMA-B1's superior power efficiency in radio and MCU processing and NORA-B2's ultra-low power for the mass market are clear market differentiators,” says Thomas Holmberg, Regional Sales Director at Nordic Semiconductor.

ALMA-B1 and NORA-B2 are available as wireless MCUs. Both modules offer two antenna options: an antenna pin or an embedded PCB antenna.

Samples for both modules will be available in Q3 2024.

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