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Posts Tagged ‘bluetooth’

Intel Gemini Lake Block Diagram and Yet More Info

August 14th, 2017 5 comments

So yesterday, I wrote about some of the new features of Intel Gemini Lake processors like native HDMI 2.0, 4-wide pipeline, 10-bit VP9, and possible built-in 802.11ac wireless controller. I went to bed, and somehow this morning I woke up with something that looks like Gemini Lake (GLK) block diagram, and a few more details.

So we indeed have HDMI 2.0 output, as well as DP 1.2a and eDP 1.4, and an embedded wireless controller via the CNVi (Connectivity Integration Architecture) block for WiFi’s MAC and Bluetooth’s MAC + Baseband modem. We’ll have plenty of USB 3.0 host interfaces, and the usual PCIe and SATA 3 interfaces. Still no UFS support, but eMMC 5.1 is supported, as well as x128 DDR4, LPDDR3 and LPDDR4 memory up to 2400 MHz (No ECC support). Cache size is confirmed to be 4MB for up to four GoldMont Plus (GLM+) cores, which combined with the wider pipeline (4 vs 3) will contribute to 10% to 15% better CPU performance compared to Apollo Lake. The Gen9LP GPU in GLK processors will come with up to 18 execution unit.

Another difference will be the update of GMM speech acceleration engine to the GNA version of the SIP with support for DNN (Dynamic Neural Networks) algorithms that could be used for applications such as Microsoft Cortana.

Nordic Semi nRF52840 vs nRF52832 vs nRF52810 Comparison for Bluetooth 5 Applications

August 9th, 2017 4 comments

Bluetooth 5 was formally introduced earlier this year with promises of four times the range, and twice the speed. Several companies offer chips that are compatible with the new standard, and among them Nordic Semi offers Bluetooth 5 ready solutions via nRF52840, nRF52832, nRF52810 Bluetooth SoCs. However, if you thought – like I did – that all three would provide the same Bluetooth 5 support with just some differences in memory, storage and performance, a comparison table put together by Raytac Corporation will show that among the three SoCs only nRF52840 will support the longer range, while the two older SoC only support the extra bandwidth offered by Bluetooth 5.

I could find a blog post about a long range demo that confirms the above:

Two nRF52840 Preview Development Kits (PDK) or nRF52832 Development Kits. A combination of the two different kits can also be used. Notice that if the nRF52832 Development Kit is used, the long-range feature will not work as this is only possible with the nRF52840.

That blog post also gives some ideas about the achievable bitrates for different modes:

The throughput measured may vary depending on the environment, but the maximum throughput should be around 1365 Kbps for BLE 5 High Speed, 775 Kbps for BLE 4.2, 128 Kbps for BLE 4.1 and 21.3 Kbps for BLE 5 Long Range. Be aware that there may be some inaccuracies in the measurements.

The main takeaway here is that if you are going to select an SoC, development board, or product with Bluetooth 5 connectivity, long range support may not always be supported, and if that feature is important to your use case, you should make sure the hardware supports it.

Categories: Nordic Semi Tags: ble, bluetooth, nordic

Bluetooth Low Energy Now Supports Mesh Networking for the Internet of Things

July 19th, 2017 8 comments

The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) has announced support for mesh networking for BLE, which enables many-to-many (m:m) device communications, and is optimized for large scale device networks for building automation, sensor networks, asset tracking solutions, and other IoT solutions where up to thousands of devices need to reliably and securely communicate with one another. The standard actually specifies 32,767 unicast addresses per mesh network, but that number of nodes is not achievable right now.

Mesh networking works with Bluetooth Low Energy and is compatible with version 4.0 and higher of the specifications. It requires SDK support for the GAP Broadcaster and Observer roles to both advertise and scan for advertising packets, and the FAQ claims Mesh Networking does not require extra power, and the devices only need to wake up at least once every four days or when they have data to transmit. Mobile apps connecting to mesh networking products will use the Bluetooth mesh proxy protocol implemented on top of BLE GAP and GATT APIs.

Bluetooth Mesh Control Model – Server and Client models are also available

You can access access various part of the Mesh Networking standard including Mesh Profile specification 1.0, Mesh Model specification 1.0, and Mesh Device properties 1.0 on Bluetooth website.

The Bluetooth SIG expects commercial products with Bluetooth mesh networking technology to become available later this year. Qualcomm – who purchased CSR – announced Mesh networking support for their QCA4020 and QCA4040 BLE chip in samples today, and commercial availability in September 2017, and Nordic Semi has released a Mesh SDK, and so has Silicon Labs. Since I understand mesh network does not require hardware modifications, then all companies providing BLE solutions should offer it.

Thanks to Crashoverride for the tip.

Flic Hub Controls WiFi, Bluetooth, and IR Devices with Bluetooth LE Buttons (Crowdfunding)

July 10th, 2017 No comments

This week-end, I wrote about 1btn open source WiFi button that can allow you directly control WiFi appliances, and/or set scenes without the need for a smartphone. We also discussed limitations of WiFi due to high power consumption, security issues and the one-way aspect of RF communication, and that Bluetooth 5 may be a better option for range and battery life if possible. Flic Hub is another way to approach the issue, as it combines Bluetooth LE buttons with a gateway supporting WiFi, Bluetooth, and infrared.

Flic Hub gateway specifications:

  • Connectivity – Bluetooth Classic, Bluetooth LE, WiFi, Ethernet, IR via optional add-on accessory.
  • Audio – 3.5mm audio out/mic in
  • Power Supply – 5V via micro USB
  • Power Consumption – 1.5W typ.
  • Security – SPARKE2+ Bluetooth encryption
  • Dimensions – 85 x 50 x 15 mm
  • Weight – 99 grams

Users can configure workflows by setting up Flic with IFTTT, Zapier, Microsoft Flow or even the HTTP request function in their apps. A Flic SDK for iOS and Android is also available, The Flib Hub runs Linux, and they encourage hacking it to fit your project/application.

You can control individual devices with the Hub, but also set scenes such as turning off light, blinds, and aircon, as well as locking with the door when you leaving by pressing once, and cancel this mode with two clicks when you comeback. It can also be used to order items online with one to multiple press, and short and long presses.

The Flic button has actually been around for a little while, as it was launched in 2015 via Indiegogo, and initially relied on your smartphone to act as a gateway. They added to Flic Hub to control more than just Bluetooth devices, and offer a more capable gateway working without smartphone, so for example you can now use up to 60 buttons, instead of just 8 with a smartphone, and anybody in your home can easily use the buttons.

The Flic buttons battery life has also been increased to up to 3 years. You can find reviews of the first Flic buttons without hub on sites like CNET, as well as somewhat mixed customers’ reviews on Amazon.

Flic Hub is now on Indiegogo with 10 days to go, and over $300,000 raised. If you already own some Flic buttons, you can pledge $69 to get the Flic Hub only, and if you plan to control IR devices too, then you’ll want to add the infrared accessory for a total of $79. If you are new to Flic, you may prefer option for Flic Hub with 3 buttons for $109, or $124 with the IR accessory. They also offer glow in the dark buttons for $59 (2 buttons) or $99 (4 buttons) that could be very useful in some situations. Shipping is free to the US, $10 to the European Union, and $15 to the rest of the world. Delivery is scheduled for October 2017.

Thanks to Leon for the tip.

$29 Bluey nRF52832 BLE & NFC Development Board Comes with Temperature, Humidity, Light, and Motion Sensors

July 5th, 2017 No comments

Electronut Labs, a startup based in Bangalore, India, has designed Bluey board powered by Nordic Semi nRF52832 Bluetooth LE SoC, and equipped with 3 sensor chips reporting temperature, humidity, light intensity, and acceleration data.

Bluey board specifications:

  • SoC – Nordic Semi nRF52832 ANT + BLE ARM Cortex-M4 @ 64 MHz processor with 512kB flash, 64kB RAM
  • Storage – Micro SD slot
  • Connectivity – Bluetooth 4.2/5 LE and other proprietary 2.4 GHz wireless standards via PCB Antenna, NFC via PCB antenna
  • Sensors
    • TI HDC1010 Temperature/Humidity sensor
    • APDS-9300-020 ambient light sensor
    • ST Micro LSM6DS3 accelerometer
  • Expansion Header – 18-pin header with GPIO, 5V, 3.3V, and GND
  • Debugging – CP2104 USB interface; 6-pin SWD header
  • Misc – CREE RGB LED; 2 push buttons; coin cell holder; on/off witch; external / battery power jumper
  • Power Supply – 5V via micro USB port, up to 6V battery voltage via 4-pin header

The board is partially open source hardware with KiCad & PDF schematics (v1.1 PCB) released in Github, but not the Gerber files nor the BoM released on Github, where you’ll find some documentation, and various samples relying on Nordic nRF5 SDK to play with Bluetooth LE and sensors, as well as sample code for a 2 wheeldrive ultrasonic robot.

The board is sold on Tindie for $29, but if you live in India, you can purchase it locally instead for 1,875 Rupiah. Visit the product page for a few more details. They do not sell the full robot, as it is based on off-the-shelf parts including HCSR-04 ultrasonic sensor, DRV8835 motor driver, and chassis made by Femtech RC Model Co that is similar to the Mini Robot Rover sold on Adafruit.

Orange Pi i96 96Boards IoT Edition WiFi & Bluetooth Development Board Finally Launched for $8.80

July 1st, 2017 30 comments

Orange Pi i96 board was first unveiled at Linaro Connect US 2016 in September of that year, as one of the first boards compliant with 96Boards IoT Edition specification, and expected to sell for just $9.99. The good news is that the board is now finally available for $8.80 plus shipping on Aliexpress ($12.19 in total in my case)

Orange Pi i96 specifications:

  • SoC – RDA Micro 8810PL ARM Cortex A5 processor @ up to 1.0 GHz with 2Gbit (256 MB) on-chip LPDDR2 RAM, 4Gbit (512 MB) on-chip SLC NAND flash , 256KB L2 cache, and Vivante GC860 3D GPU
  • External Storage – micro SD slot
  • Connectivity – WiFi 802.11 b/g/n + Bluetooth 2.1/EDR module (RDA5991)
  • Camera – MIPI CSI-2 connector for camera sensor up to 5MP
  • Video – 1080p30 H.264 encoding
  • USB – 1x USB host port, 1x micro USB OTG port
  • Expansion – 40-pin GPIO header with SPI, I2C, GPIOs, etc…
  • Debugging – 3x pin UART for serial console
  • Misc – 8 selection jumpers, power button, power LED, boot selection header
  • Power Supply – 5V via micro USB port; optional support for battery power
  • Dimensions – 60 x 30 mm as per 96Boards IoT Edition specification
  • Certifications – CE and FCC based on the silkscreen

The hardware is a cost-down version of Orange Pi 2G-IoT board without 2G / GSM support, no display interface, no heaphone jack, and a smaller PCB (60×30 mm vs 68×42 mm). The company claims the board supports Android 4.4, Ubuntu, and Debian, and we already have Android SDK with Linux and u-boot source code. Note that the board is not listed on 96Boards IE page yet, and I’d like to remind readers that while 96Boards specifications target both hardware and software, many companies do not comply with the software part of the specifications, and having a 96Boards compliant board does not mean Linaro engineers themselves are working on it. RDA Micro 8810PL processor on development boards is also pretty new, so you can’t expect everything to mostly work out of the box, like you would on Allwinner H3 boards, and for example booting Linux from NAND (Android is OK), and controlling GPIOs may still be an issue at this stage.

Nevertheless, the price, features, and dimensions of this Linux board could make it an alternative to ESP32 boards such as Wemo LoLin32 for some IoT projects, especially where the RAM and storage might be tight. The board could also be interesting for connected camera applications.

Thanks to theguyuk for the tip.

Olimex Launches 22 Euros ESP32-GATEWAY Board with Ethernet, WiFi and Bluetooth LE

June 21st, 2017 13 comments

Olimex has just launched ESP32-GATEWAY board, as cost-down version of their ESP32-EVB board, still with Ethernet, WiFi, and Bleutooth LE, but without any relays, CAN bus, nor IR control, less I/Os, and a smaller footprint.

Olimex ESP32-GATEWAY specifications:

  • Wireless Module – ESP32-WROOM32 module with 802.11 b/g/n WiFi and Bluetooth LE
  • Wired Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet with RJ45 jack (via LAN8710A)
  • External Storage – micro SD slot
  • Expansion – 20-pin GPIO connector
  • USB – 1x micro USB port for debugging (CH340T) and power
  • Misc – Reset and user buttons
  • Power Supply – 5V via micro USB port
  • Dimensions – 62 x 50 mm

Another change is the lack of a LiPo charger to run the board from batteries. Just like most Olimex boards, ESP32-GATEWAY is open source hardware with KiCAD design files available on Github. The software directory is still empty, but Ethernet demo code using ESP32-IDF has been pushed for for ESP32-EVB board, and is likely to run with minor or even no modifications on ESP32-GATEWAY board.

You’ll save 4 Euros over ESP32-EVB board, as Olimex is selling ESP32-GATEWAY board for 22 Euros.

Design Amazon Alexa Gateways, Robots and Smart Speakers with WisCore Modular Development Kit

June 17th, 2017 3 comments

RAK Wireless has launched a new development board powered by Mediatek MT7628A processor running OpenWrt with built-in WiFi and Ethernet connectivity, and audio codec and microphone to support Amazon Alexa voice service. Bluetooth, Zigbee, and Z-wave will also be supported via UART modules.

Wiscore Specifications:

  • Processor – Mediatek MT7628A MIPS24KEc CPU @ up to  580MHz
  • System Memory –  128MB DDR2 (64 MB optional)
  • Storage – 16 MB flash + micro SD card

    Block Diagram – Click to Enlarge

  • Audio
    • MicroSemi ZL38062 for audio in and out
    • MicroSemi ZL38067 to handle “Alexa” keyword
    • single or dual digital microphone up to 5 meter range
    • Far field voice wake up
    • Support for echo cancellation
  • Connectivity
    • 802.11 b/g/n WiFi 2×2 MIMO up to 300 Mbps
    • 2x 10/100M Ethernet (LAN and WAN)
    • Optional UART modules for Bluetooth, ZigBeem Z-Wave
  • USB – 1x USB 2.0 host port
  • Expansion – Arduino headers with UART, I2C, SPI and GPIOs
  • Power Supply – 5V via power barrel or mini USB port

As you can see from the photo below, the main components are on separate boards (for some reasons) with a “mother board”, MT7628 module, and an audio sub-board.

As mentioned in the introduction, the MT7628 module runs an OS based on OpenWrt with RAK iGate middleware, and the company provides an SDK allowing you to develop solutions based on Amazon Alexa thanks to one codec that will detect “Alexa” keyword and wake up to the board, and another codec handling audio capture and output. The software architecture is shown below, Wiscore app for Android and iOS is provided to pair the EVK with Alexa, and more documentation and software can be found in the Wiki on Github.

WisCore Software Architecture

The solution can be used to build voice controlled home automation gateways or appliances, smart speakers, and robots. RAK Wireless sells a development kit with the three boards, an Ethernet cable, a speaker, a USB cable, two antennas, some Dupont wires, some jumpers, and a Quick Start Guide for $49 plus shipping. Visit the product page for a few more details.