Arduino Primo features native Nordic BLE technology

17th May 2016
Nat Bowers

Nordic Semiconductor has announced that Arduino - the world's most successful open-source ecosystem for education, maker and IoT markets - has specified the Nordic Semiconductor nRF52832 BLE SoC at the heart of its latest product: a low cost IoT-targeted programmable SBC (or base board) called the Arduino Primo.

The Arduino Primo base board features native BLE wireless connectivity and also includes NFC, WiFi and IR technologies. Previously users were required to add shields - plug-in daughter boards offering additional functionality - to the base board to upgrade to BLE wireless connectivity.

In addition to being able to wirelessly connect to a wide array of BLE sensors, the Arduino Primo can act as a fully-functional TCP / IP internet client and server over WiFi; uses the Nordic nRF52832 SoC's integrated NFC for secure authentication and 'Touch-to-Pair' and has embedded IR for traditional remote control.

The Nordic Semiconductor nRF52832 features a 64MHz, 32-bit ARM Cortex-M4F processor which delivers up to 60% more generic processing power compared to competing solutions, while offering ten times the floating point and twice the DSP performance. The nRF52832's 2.4GHz multiprotocol radio is also fully compatible with the Bluetooth 4.2 specification and features -96dB RX sensitivity and 5.5mA peak RX/TX currents. The nRF52832 also features 512kB Flash memory and 64kB RAM, plus a fully-automatic power management system to optimise power consumption.

In addition to controlling the BLE RF protocol software (stack) and application code, the Nordic nRF52832 SoC's ARM processor has ample computational overhead to supervise and control the Arduino Primo's on-board accelerometer, temperature, humidity and pressure sensors. For all but the most advanced projects, programming will be done via the established Arduino IDE programming interface that Arduino says is designed to make electronics design easy for everyone regardless of experience, technical knowledge and age.

Professional developers and makers who want to access the most advanced features and functionality the Arduino Primo has to offer will also be able to use any Nordic nRF52 series-compatible SDK or programming tools. For example, the nRF5 SDK for IoT allows more experienced users to develop IPv6 over BLE applications on the nRF52832 SoC, enabling the Arduino Primo to communicate with other internet-connected "things" without requiring the resources of a complex and expensive gateway such as a WiFi router or smartphone.

Federico Musto, CEO & President, Arduino S.r.L., commented: "It has been estimated that the number of connected devices worldwide will increase from today's approximately 15bn to 200bn in 2020. These numbers are astonishing and mostly due to the crazy growth of the IoT. Makers, entrepreneurs, small and large companies, kids and venture capitalists are paying close attention, and the playing field is very broad. From smart homes, to data analytics, to security, the applications are endless. Our passion at Arduino is to provide the hardware and software tools to encourage passionate people to build out their ideas and bring them into the world. Adding wireless connectivity from our partnership with Nordic provides even more options. Not only is the hardware of the Arduino Primo based on the Nordic nRF52 series - one of the most popular BLE solutions on the market - but the software architecture and development tools make it simple for makers to get wireless up and running. Ease-of-use is one of our core strengths and this makes the Nordic chip a perfect match for the Arduino Primo."

"One of Nordic's strategies is to closely support the maker and hobbyists communities so that they can painlessly incorporate BLE wireless connectivity into their electronic development projects. Because Arduino-based electronics make up around 70 to 80% of amateur engineers' projects, it was an easy decision when Arduino asked us to supply the nRF52832 SoC to form the heart of its native BLE wireless base board. Considering the popularity of the Arduino ecosystem I predict it won't be long before we see many innovative IoT applications using the Arduino Primo," said Geir Langeland, Director of Sales & Marketing, Nordic Semiconductor.

The Arduino Primo will shortly be complemented by the 'Arduino Primo Core', a wearables-targeted, 40mm diameter circular base board form factor that offers all the functionality of the larger product with the exception of WiFi.

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