Bluetooth 5 promises to quadrupling the range and double the bandwidth of Bluetooth LE connection. However, we’ve seen not all Bluetooth 5 solutions will provide all features in a comparison between Nordic Semi nRF52840 vs nRF52832 vs nRF52810 Bluetooth 5 ready SoCs, as while all three platforms will handle the higher bandwidth just fine, only the nRF52840 will extend the range up to 4 times.
That’s why you want want to make sure you get recent hardware capable of fully handling Bluetooth 5, and U-blox has just announced NINA-B3 Bluetooth 5 module series, based on nRF52840 SoC, that will both provide longer range and higher bandwidth.
U-blox NINA-B3 module comes in two family flavors:
- NINA‑B31, comes pre‑flashed with u‑blox’s Connectivity Software, eliminating the need for embedded programming. Support for AT command set, and u-Blox low energy serial port service
- NINA‑B30 using nRF52840’s ARM Cortex-M4F as an “Open CPU” that allows for more customization, including support for Bluetooth mesh and Thread, and reduce the need for external hardware. Those module also support OTA updates.
Each variant support either internal or external antenna, and we end up with four models:
- NINA-B301 – “Open CPU” with internal antenna
- NINA-B302 – “Open CPU” with external antenna
- NINA-B311 – U-blox software with internal antenna
- NINA-B312 – U-blox software with external antenna
All are quite tiny, with the internal antenna modules measuring 10.0 x 11.6 x 1.9 mm, and the ones with external antenna only slightly bigger and thicker at 10.0 x 15.0 x 3.5 mm.
As shown in the products matrix above, all modules from the family support Bluetooth 5 with GATT profile, NFC for touch to pair, 1x or 2x UART, 3x SPI, 38x GPIO pins, and secure boot. The NINA-B30 variants add several I/Os including 2x I2C, 1I2S, 1x USB, 1 QDEC, 1x PDM, 1 PWN, and 8x ADC.
U-blox expects the first samples to be available in Q1 2018. More details can be found in the product page.
Jean-Luc started CNX Software in 2010 as a part-time endeavor, before quitting his job as a software engineering manager, and starting to write daily news, and reviews full time later in 2011.
Are these a BGA? They don’t look castellated.
I can’t find clear information. Just:
“Machine mountable solder pins”
“Pin compatible with other NINA modules”
They should look like that underneath:
@Jean-Luc Aufranc (CNXSoft)
Thanks! Your reporting continues to be top notch!
Oh, crud, I can’t seem to edit my post. I was going to add that they seem to be a BGA part on a small PCB interposer. I wonder if they offer a ‘raw’ BGA version as the interposer doesn’t look to add any value. Or I’m just seeing things wrong in the picture.
Whats the difference between nRF52840 and U-blox NINA-B3? It seems nRF52840 can do bluetooth also. Why is it necessary to get the NINA-B3?
nRF52840 is just a chip, NINA-B3 is a module with nRF52840, some other components, and optionally an antenna.
You can also design a board with NINA module footprint, and change with other compatible modules as needed. If you only used nRF52840, you may have to redesign the board to change the chip.