Bluetooth Developer? Why Reinvent the Wireless Radio… Use the CORDIO BT4 Radio IP

Many developers feel they need to go it alone when inventing a new wireless device, designing every aspect of the device from the ground up. What many forget is that it is often the best approach to buy or license certain parts of the design from other developers who may specialize in just one facet of their overall product. Case in point? Well if you are a Bluetooth developer, and need to have a best-in-class wireless radio, the Sunrise Micro Devices CORDIO BT4 may be just the shortcut to getting to market you are looking for.

sunrise-micro-devices-logo

What is CORDIO BT4?

So, what is the CORDIO BT4 exactly? It is a patented IP (Intellectual Property) Bluetooth Smart wireless radio design that can be licensed from Sunrise Micro Devices. And why would you want to choose their design over your own or another competitors? Sunrise Micro Devices is in the standards-based radio core IP business and has been for quite a while. They are experts in sub-volt radios which greatly extend battery life and are friendly to energy harvesters.

Two important things to know before we get into more details about the CORDIO BT4.

  1. Sunrise Micro Devices will be giving two demonstrations of it in use at the Embedded World Event February 24-26 in Nuremberg, Germany.
  2. They are excited to announce support for Bluetooth 4.2 enhancements.

What are it’s benefits?

The CORDIO BT4 wireless radio is a sub-volt radio that is not only extremely power efficient but also has an incredible small form factor. In comparison tests against other best-in-class radios, the CORDIO BT4 has been shown to extend battery life by 26% in its 3V mode (while transmitting) and as much as 103% in 1V mode (while in sleep mode).

sunrise-micro-devices-bluetooth-best-in-class-battery-life-qtooth

As you can see in the images above, the form factor is so small that it can easily be integrated into a system that is smaller than the battery that runs it. And, because of its extraordinarily low power consumption, it can even be run with no batteries at all using two .5V solar cells.

Examples of the CORDIO BT4 in Use

As mentioned previously, Sunrise Micro Devices (SMD) will be doing demos of their product at in Nuremberg Germany next week as part of the Embedded World convention. Here is a sneak peek at what they have in store:

First, SMD will be part of the ARM ‘Sensors to Servers’ demo, where the booth will be outfitted with sensors that provide temperature and position information. The data that is collected will be processed on an mbedTM device server and aggregated to create compelling visualizations. Meanwhile, the SMD customer evaluation boards will serve as sensor nodes. These customer evaluation boards willwill send periodic temperature and position data and consist of a CORDIO BT4 Bluetooth Smart 4.1 radio, an ARM Cortex-M0+ processor based MCU, and an ARM mbed–enabled platform with Wicentric Bluetooth Stack and Profiles.

sunrise-micro-devices-gyroscope-temp-data-demo-qtooth

The Second demo will be part of the ARM ‘mbed ecosystem’ demo. In this scenario the ARM booth will be outfitted with Bluetooth Smart nodes functioning as UriBeacons. The transmitting UriBeacons will be received by mobile devices with the standard Physical Web app on Android. SMD micro-beacon and evaluation boards will be programmed as UriBeacons. The evaluation boards in this case will consist of CORDIO BT4 Bluetooth Smart 4.1 radio beacons running from 1V batteries, an ARM Cortex-M0+ processor based MCU, and an ARM mbed–enabled platform with Wicentric Bluetooth Stack and Profiles. They will be configured to send out the www.mbed.com web address.

sunrise-micro-devices-bluetoothsmart-micro-beacons-demo-qtooth

 

Make vs. Buy When It Comes to the CORDIO BT4 Bluetooth Wireless Radio

Why might a company or developer decide that it is wiser to buy a design solution rather than coming up with their own? Well, in the case of the CORDIO BT4, it helps reduce the risk and cost of development while improving time to market. Buying the radio is an enabler that allows the developer to spend their most precious resources, time and money, in areas where they may have better expertise. There is also the fact that as part of the licensing they are guaranteed of keeping the radio current ot the most recent standards. It’s important to support the latest standards in order to stay competitive. Take the burden off of your team and let someone like Sunrise Micro Devices shoulder that load. Radios are very hard to build and development requires a highly specialized skillset. Relying on an experienced outside team allows the developers to innovate in other areas that might better differentiate their product from the competition.

sunrise-micro-devices-make-vs-buy-bluetooth-wireless-design-qtooth

 

Sunrise Micro Devices and the Future of Bluetooth

bluetooth-4.2-development-mission-control-meet-the-team-qtooth

Sunrise Micro Devices is working hard to make sure their radio designs stay on the leading edge of all developments in the industry. So much so, that their CTO, Dr. Ed Callaway, is on the Bluetooth SIG team that developed the 4.2 specification that was just ratified in December of 2014. You can read more about it by clicking here, but the main enhancements to the Bluetooth Smart protocol are the increased levels of privacy and security and the extended packet length. “Extended what” you say?! Extended packets mean that the Bluetooth signal will be able to carry more data. This will make low-power internet connectivity available over IPv6/6LoWPAN, helping facilitate easier communication between Bluetooth and WiFi.

bluetooth-bt4.2-increased-packet-length-qtooth

CORDIO BT4 Features & Specifications

  • 2.4GHz standard-compliant Bluetooth Smart radio IP
  • BT4 power consumption (@ 1V):
    • Active Rx: 6 mW
    • Active Tx (0 dBm): 6.5 mW
    • Sleep mode: 700 nW
  • Radio specifications:
    • TX power:0 dBm @1V and 5 dBm @3V
    • RX sensitivity: -94 dBm
  • Integrated Link Layer sub-system and HCI Interface for easy SW implementation
  • Link Layer firmware in the ROM  48KB ROM and 12KB RAM
  • Bluetooth qualified controller sub-system

sunrise-micro-devices-cordio-bt4-bluetooth-smart-solution-qtooth

Need It? Want It? Have to Have It?

There comes a time in every inventor or developer’s journey where they realize they are losing precious time and spending a lot of money on things that are not completely within their field of expertise. A decision will have to be made, do they soldier on and take the time to train themselves in this new discipline? Or do they do a cost/benefit analysis to see if it will be to their advantage to outsource it to someone who is already the best at what they do. The CORDIO BT4 from Sunrise Micro Devices is one of those solutions. If you want to know more, check them out next week at Embedded World or reach out to them via their website at sunrisemicro.com.