Toshiba Develops Miniature Bluetooth Module with an Integrated Antenna Using Nordic's SOC

Nordic Semiconductor announced that Tokyo, Japan-based multinational conglomerate, Toshiba Corporation, has selected the 2.48 x 2.46 mm wafer level chip scale package (WLCSP) version of Nordic’s nRF52811 Bluetooth Low Energy (Bluetooth LE) System-on-Chip (SoC) to provide the core processing power and wireless connectivity for its ‘Bluetooth module with SASP (Slot Antenna on Shielded Package) Technology’. The module with an integrated antenna measures just 4 x 10 x 1 mm and weighs 0.09 gms, and according to Toshiba is the world's smallest Bluetooth LE module of its kind.

Flexibility for developers

The company’s proprietary SASP (Slot Antenna on Shielded Package) technology is designed to minimize the size of the module by using the shielded packaging to house part of the antenna. As a result, only part of the antenna is on the PCB, which reduces the component exclusion zone (“keep-out zone”), thereby reducing the size of the module. In addition, unlike competing modules, the keep-out zone does not extend beyond the boundaries of the module’s PCB. This offers developers greater flexibility in the placement of peripheral components such as connectors and sensors, for example on the backside of the end-product PCB, further reducing end-product size.

Powered by Nordic’s nRF52811 SoC, the Bluetooth module with SASP Technology includes not only the antenna, but two crystals, and the passive components for RF and DC-to-DC regulator operation.

Fully-automatic power management

The module enables robust processing and multiprotocol wireless connectivity in applications where both space and cost are constrained – notably clothing/wearables such as smartwatches and ear-worn devices for health monitoring and exercise analysis, as well as various IoT applications with a limited power supply for sending and receiving data from sensors. The nRF52811 SoC at the heart of the module has been engineered to minimize power consumption with a fully automatic power management system that reduces power consumption by up to 80 percent compared with the nRF51 Series.

Nordic’s nRF52811 multiprotocol SoC combines a powerful 64 MHz, 32-bit Arm Cortex M4 processor, with a 2.4 GHz radio (supporting Direction Finding, Bluetooth 5.2, Thread, Zigbee, IEEE 802.15.4, and proprietary 2.4 GHz RF protocol software) featuring 4 dBm output power with -97 dBm sensitivity (at 1 Mbps in Bluetooth 5 mode), and 192 kB Flash memory plus 24 kB RAM. The nRF52811 is the first product in Nordic’s low power wireless range to support Direction Finding, which brings precise positioning capability to the high throughput, long-range, and enhanced coexistence capabilities of Bluetooth 5. The SoC is supplied with Nordic’s S112 SoftDevice, a Bluetooth 5-certified RF software protocol stack for building advanced Bluetooth LE applications. The S112 SoftDevice features Peripheral and Broadcaster Bluetooth LE roles that support up to four connections and enable concurrent role operation.

“We selected Nordic’s nRF52811 SoC for our Bluetooth module with SASP Technology due to the chip’s low cost, compact size, and low power consumption, combined with its generous Flash memory allocation,” says Keiju Yamada, SASP Project Leader for Toshiba. “Nordic provides impressive software and demo sample codes to aid development.”

Click here to learn more about Nordic nRF52811 SoC.