Nordic Semiconductors’ nRF5340 dual Arm Cortex-M33 processor wireless SoC for complex IoT applications – enters commercial production

Nordic Semiconductors’ nRF5340 dual Arm Cortex-M33 processor wireless SoC for complex IoT applications – enters commercial production
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The world’s first dual Arm Cortex-M33 wireless SoC is now available as a production version through Nordic’s distribution network. The SoC offers the advanced features and security required for complex IoT applications including LE Audio, advanced wearables, and professional lighting

Nordic Semiconductor on 3rd December 2020, announced that the ‘nRF5340TM high-end multiprotocol System-on-Chip (SoC)’ has entered volume production. The nRF5340 builds on Nordic’s proven and globally adopted nRF51 and nRF52 Series multiprotocol SoCs while introducing a new flexible, dual-processor hardware architecture with advanced security features.

The nRF5340 combines a high-performance application processor with a fully programmable, ultra low power network processor, plus advanced root-of-trust and trusted execution security features, into a low power multiprotocol SoC ready for professional lighting, industrial automation, advanced wearables, and other complex IoT applications. The nRF5340 supports major RF protocols including Bluetooth® 5.2/Bluetooth Low Energy (Bluetooth LE), Bluetooth mesh, Thread, and Zigbee. This multi-protocol support enables developers and manufacturers using this chip to easily develop solutions integrating multiple protocol support for their devices, as well as enabling advantage of a uniform inventory for their wide array of products.

The speciality of the SoC is that it is designed to meet the requirements of LE Audio, enabling audio streaming over Bluetooth Low Energy. LE Audio supports multi-stream synchronized audio for applications such as earbuds, and Audio Sharing, whereby a single audio source can be broadcast to multiple recipients.

With an LE Audio- enabled software stack, the nRF5340’s radio can support Isochronous Channels, the Bluetooth 5.2 feature required by LE Audio for streaming. LE Audio also introduces the Low Complexity Communications Codec (LC3), a high-quality, low-power audio compression codec that can run efficiently on the nRF5340. The audio data can be transferred to other parts of the system (for example, AD/DA converters, speakers, and microphones) using the I2S and PDM audio interfaces, which employ the nRF5340’s low-jitter audio PLL clock source. This can revolutionize the audio industry, especially the truly wireless audio world.

Simple security configuration

For security, the production version of the nRF5340 incorporates Arm CryptoCell-312, Arm TrustZone® technology, and Secure Key Storage. Arm TrustZone technology efficiently provides system-wide hardware isolation for trusted software by separating between secure and non-secure regions on a single core. The security attributes of the Flash memory, RAM, and peripherals are easily configured through software available in the companion ‘nRF Connect SDK’ (Software Development Kit). The Arm CryptoCell-312 hardware accelerates the strong ciphers and encryption standards required in the most security-conscious IoT products. Secure Key Storage is enabled by the Key Management Unit peripheral, where the keys are physically isolated from processor access, and only the Arm CryptoCell-312 can access the secure keys. The secure bootloader in the nRF Connect SDK establishes a root-of-trust and extends this to a chain-of-trust by only booting software that has a verified signature. The bootloader also verifies that all incoming device firmware updates originate from an authenticated source.

“The nRF5340 is a high-performance and versatile connectivity SoC, making it a perfect device for a variety of applications and use-cases,” says Marcellino Gemelli, Director of Global Business Development at Bosch Sensortec. “Bosch Sensortec is excited to work with our partner Nordic Semiconductor to combine our advanced motion and environmental sensing technologies with the nRF5340 capabilities, and enable the next generation devices in wearables, smart homes, and industrial applications.”

“The nRF5340 is the culmination of several years of focused product development from perhaps the most experienced low-power wireless R&D team in the world,” says Pär Håkansson, Product Manager, Short-Range IoT at Nordic Semiconductor, “that’s why we’re now particularly pleased to announce the production version of the nRF5340.” 

“The SoC is highly capable and ready to support a wide range of complex wireless IoT applications that were previously not possible. For example, audio product makers can now source a commercial dual-core chip that is perfectly aligned with the demands of high-quality wireless audio streaming.” 

Extended temperature operation

ordic’s nRF5340 is an advanced ultra low power SoC that introduces a new flexible, dual-processor hardware architecture. The SoC supports major RF protocols including Bluetooth LE, Bluetooth mesh, Thread, and Zigbee. It is based around dual Arm® Cortex®-M33 processors; a high performance application processor capable of DSP and Floating Point (FP), offering voltage and frequency scaling options and running up to 128 MHz (514 CoreMark) with dedicated 1 MB Flash and 512 KB RAM, and a fully programmable, ultra low power network processor running at 64 MHz (244 CoreMark) with dedicated 256 KB Flash and 64 KB RAM. The nRF5340 operates over a 1.7 to 5.5 V supply voltage range and incorporates a new, power-optimized multiprotocol 2.4 GHz radio with a TX current of 3.4 mA (0 dBm TX power, 3 V, DC/DC) and RX current of 2.7 mA (3 V, DC/DC). Sleep current is as low as 0.9 µA. The radio is capable of all Bluetooth Direction Finding features. The SoC features a wide range of interface peripherals including NFC, USB, QSPI, and High-Speed SPI. The QSPI peripheral is augmented to interface with external memory at 96 MHz. The nRF5340 is designed for extended operating temperature up to 105oC.

The nRF Connect SDK, which supports Nordic’s nRF52 and nRF91 Series in addition to the nRF5340, offers a complete solution that integrates the Zephyr RTOS, protocol stacks, application examples, and hardware drivers. The SDK is publicly hosted on GitHub, offers source code management with Git and comes with free SEGGER Embedded Studio IDE support. The SDK currently includes development support for Bluetooth LE, Thread and Zigbee, with production support coming during H1 2021.

The nRF5340 Preview Development Kit (PDK) has now been replaced with the nRF5340 DK (built around the production version of the nRF5340). The nRF5340 DK is also available through Nordic’s distribution network. 

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