u-blox high performance NORA-B1 Bluetooth module

29th September 2020
Alex Lynn

u-blox has announced the NORA-B1 Bluetooth module, the newest member of its short range radio portfolio. Based on Nordic Semiconductor’s latest nRF5340 Bluetooth low energy chipset – hosting a powerful Arm Cortex M33 dual core MCU – NORA-B1 is designed to meet the needs of performance-oriented applications in areas such as industrial, medical, and smart building and smart city markets.

NORA-B1 helps engineers get maximum value out of a single component. Taking advantage of the chipset’s dual core MCU, NORA-B1 can handle performance-oriented applications and even drive a display without requiring an external host processer. With one low-power-optimised core dedicated to managing network connectivity and a second high performance core exclusively running the device application, NORA-B1 enables smooth and uninterrupted operation with minimal processing latency.

The Arm TrustZone offers enhanced security, enabling a trusted execution environment by fully separating secure and non-secure Flash, RAM, peripherals, and GPIOs. The module also comes with the Arm CryptoCell-312, which provides hardware-accelerated cryptography and, in combination with the key management unit (KMU), enables a root of trust and secure key storage.

“Nordic Semiconductor’s nRF5340 chipset brings Bluetooth-enabled connectivity to a new, more demanding class of applications, not only in terms of computing power but also in terms of security,” said Pelle Svensson, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Short Range Radio, at u-blox. “We designed the NORA-B1 to make it easy for product developers to tap into the opportunities it offers.”

Compact, extensively qualified, and globally certified, NORA-B1 brings the full promise of Bluetooth 5.2 to wireless applications, while also supporting ZigBee and Thread. LE audio, which can concurrently stream multiple channels with lower power consumption than existing technology, brings a major upgrade to audio data transmission, one of Bluetooth’s most popular use cases.

The combination of the dual core MCU, enhanced security, and Bluetooth 5.2 make the NORA B1 module a natural fit for a wide range of wireless applications. These include industrial machine control, asset tracking, remote controls and gateways, connected power tools requiring continuous motor control, and advanced medical wearables with demanding security requirements.

The new NORA footprint, which measures only 10.4x14.3x1.8mm, provides ease of routing with reduced host board complexity, resulting in cost savings for the end user. It will be available in several antenna variants, including a compact PCB antenna. Qualified for an extended temperature range up to 105°C, NORA-B1 can operate reliably in harsh environments that are common in industrial settings as well as in smart indoor and outdoor lighting.

“u-blox has succeeded in offering a high-quality integration of our latest nRF5340 chipset into their NORA-B1 module series, leveraging its dual core MCU to boost performance capabilities and utilising its assets to deliver enhanced security,” said Alf Helge Omre, Global Business Development Manager at Nordic Semiconductor. “We are pleased to see u-blox bring a broad Bluetooth portfolio largely featuring the Nordic Semiconductor offering to the market.”

Customers will be able to get ahold of samples in Q4 2020.

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