Nordic Semiconductor Bluetooth low-energy and ANT+ ICs claim as smallest available



Ultra low power (ULP) RF specialist Nordic Semiconductor announced the immediate availability of two wafer-level chip-scale package (WLCSP) variants of its existing QFN-packaged nRF51822 and nRF51422 SoCs (System-on-Chips) that will now join the company's nRF51 Series. The nRF51822 WLCSP and nRF51422 WLCSP SoCs will offer the full functionality of their nRF51822 and nRF51422 QFN counterparts but in a 3.5mm (length) x 3.8mm (width) x 0.5mm (height) WLCSP format that with a 13.3mm2 footprint occupies 40 percent less board space. If these WLCSP SoCs are further used in conjunction with an integrated balun design available for the nRF51 Series from STMicroelectronics, the total board space saving compared to a conventional QFN and discrete component design can be as high as 80 percent. The nRF51822 WLCSP and nRF51422 WLCSP are presented as the world's smallest Bluetooth® low energy (including Bluetooth Smart) and ANT+ SoC solutions and are ideal for any application where space is severely constrained. These include smart fashion and sports watches, wearable sports & fitness or medical sensors, portable smartphone appcessories, hearing aids, and smart cards. Many of these products represent some of the fastest growing market segments within the ultra low power wireless industry today. A study by ABI Research, for example, predicts the market for wearable fitness and health sensors will grow to reach 170 million devices by 2017. In a separate study, Juniper Research found that the market for wireless accessories linking to smartphones and tablets will reach 110 million devices a year over the same period. ABI Research also predicts in another study that annual revenues from aftermarket 'smart' mobile device accessories to reach $62 billion by 2017 as well, with smartphones being responsible for 80 percent of shipments. "Some of the most explosive growth in ULP wireless today is happening in products and applications where size is of paramount importance," comments John Leonard, Tactical Marketing Manager at Nordic Semiconductor. "For any sensor-type wireless device that is designed to be carried or worn by end users size is critical in the name of comfort and convenience, while for even hub-type products such as intelligent watches that link to smartphones you are still severely restricted as to how big you can make the end device." Leonard continues: "When adding wireless features to standalone products that aren't designed to be worn or carried, extending PCB real-estate to accommodate these additions often isn't a major issue. But when doing the same with an intelligent wristwach or wrist-computer, for example, you are constantly under pressure to reduce and minimize PCB real-estate, with no option to increase it." "One of the key features of ultra low power wireless is its ability to support coin cell operation for long periods of time," concludes Geir Langeland, Nordic Semiconductor's Director of Sales & Marketing. "As the battery is often the largest single component of any wearable device or portable accessory, Nordic Semiconductor is reducing their physical achievable limits down to watch battery dimensions with the launch of these latest nRF51 Series WLCSP variants and that could support some very exciting new product developments." Nordic Semiconductor