by Kristian Sæther, Product Director – Cellular IoT, Nordic Semiconductor
New SiPs combine with software, Cloud services and technical support for a complete design and deployment solution for cellular IoT and NR+
Designing, installing and maintaining cellular IoT is more challenging than for short range radio technology such as Bluetooth Low Energy. And it has been made harder still by supply chain fragmentation. In the worst case, an OEM might have to deal with individual suppliers and support organizations for chipsets, host controllers, development tools, software development kits, modules and Cloud services.
Nordic Semiconductor’s strategy is to consolidate the supply chain by bringing together all the elements needed for the successful launch and implementation of an IoT product under one roof. The company’s Bluetooth LE solutions, for example, include SoCs, proven stacks, comprehensive design and development tools, prototype platforms and reference designs. And after deployment in the field, Bluetooth LE end products can be regularly updated with secure over- the-air software downloads.
Now Nordic has followed the same strategy to become the first company to offer a fully inclusive, world-class massive IoT solution. The offering forms a comprehensive, end-to-end cellular IoT platform with additional support for DECT NR+ (‘NR+’). Comprising new products based on nRF91 Series SiPs this massive IoT offering brings simplicity, stability and cost efficiency to cellular IoT design, manufacture and deployment. For the first time, vendors can access chipsets, SiPs, software, tools and services designed, supported and supplied by a single company.
“Today’s announcement positions Nordic Semiconductor as the pre-eminent supplier of massive IoT solutions,” says Svenn-Tore Larsen, Nordic’s CEO. “I’m very proud to declare that the company is the first to offer a comprehensive cellular IoT solution that will save our customers considerable time, money, engineering resources, and frustration that result from dealing with fragmented supply chains. This integrated cellular IoT solution follows the same unified platform strategy we have implemented for our class-leading Bluetooth LE, Thread and Wi-Fi products.”
Extending the nRF91 Series
Nordic’s cellular IoT solution with support for NR+ comprises two new nRF91 Series SiPs, the nRF9161 and nRF9131, evaluation and development tools, development software, and nRF Cloud services, plus world-class technical support and advice.
The nRF9161 is a complete, targeted globally pre-certified SiP that makes it possible to use a single device to select either cellular IoT with access to global, reliable and secure connectivity, or NR+ for massive, ultra reliable private 5G networking. New features introduced in the nRF9161 SiP modem firmware and on nRF Cloud help customers further reduce power consumption making the SiP ideal for use cases demanding long battery life. The new product also boasts enhanced GNSS and cell-based location performance. The nRF9131 SiP is a feature-compatible alternative to the nRF9161 measuring half the size and offering greater flexibility in design and sourcing for high-volume businesses. By integrating the SoC and RF Front End in a mini-SiP, the nRF9131 eliminates complexity, major RF risks and simplifies the manufacturing process compared to the traditional use of discrete chipsets designs in high-volume products. The two SiPs are currently available for sampling to key customers.
Development with the new SiPs is through Nordic’s unified and scalable nRF Connect SDK. The nRF Connect for Desktop software also offers unique cellular IoT tools for optimizing power consumption and evaluating, monitoring and debugging network connectivity.
Deployed customer end-devices based on the new SiPs will be supported by Nordic’s nRF Cloud. nRF Cloud is optimized for seamless and power-efficient operation with Nordic’s IoT products and offers a connectivity platform and Cloud services solution for massive IoT deployments from onboarding to decommissioning.
Two new sets of services, nRF Cloud Security Services and nRF Cloud Device Management, offer secure remote provisioning, cryptographic identity authentication, device state monitoring and protocol- agnostic connectivity options.
About the Author
Kristian Sæther is the Product Director for Cellular IoT and NR+ with Nordic Semiconductor. He enjoys working with new technologies set to transform the world and joined Nordic’s cellular team in 2019. Before joining Nordic, he held various applications, marketing, system architecture, product and strategic management roles for microcontrollers, processors and UWB radar solutions in Atmel, Microchip and Novelda. Kristian holds an M.Sc. in Cybernetics from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.
This article is republished with permission from Nordic Semiconductor.