Compact RF Module Integrates BLE and LoRa Radio Functionality

Ultra-miniature RF modules developer, Insight SiP has unveiled its ISP4520 series of modules, extending its product portfolio to include Long Range Networking via LoRa technology. The module integrates BLE and LoRa radio functionality to offer a unique solution, combining the short-range high throughput capability and easy smartphone/PC access of BLE together with the long-range features of LoRa technology.

The module uses Insight SiP’s patented “Antenna in Package” technology together with their advanced System in Package design approach to embed both BLE and LoRa Antennas into an ultra-small device measuring only 9.8 x 17.2 x 1.7 mm, making it the smallest device of its type on the market.

LoRa technology offers a low cost, wide area networking solution for IOT applications, typically in use cases requiring a limited data rate and a long-term battery powered operation. LoRa can operate via public networks and in a private network scenario, giving it an unparalleled flexibility for this type of solution. BLE gives a higher bandwidth channel for the device, which can be used for commissioning, software updates, maintenance, or to connect a set of local sensors to central hub. The Insight SiP solution provides this functionality in an ultra-small fully integrated and certified device.

The BLE part of the ISP4520 integrates the WLCSP nRF52832 chip from Nordic Semiconductor and employs the proven design of Insight SiP’s existing BLE product range. Like all of Insight’s products, it is a fully featured BLE device with integrated 32 MHz / 32 KHz crystals, RF antenna and matching circuit and DC-DC convertor, thus having maximum power saving efficiency.

The ISP4520 includes a powerful ARM Cortex M4F processor with 512 KB Flash and 64 KB RAM. This provides the customer with a large application space, even allowing for the BLE and LoRa protocol stacks. A full set of interfaces is supplied the device for analog or digital peripherals, including 30 GPIOs, an analog to digital convertor, and SPI, I2C and UART buses. It also provides NFC connectivity for easy pairing. The LoRa radio is based on a Semtech SX126x chipset (different variants being proposed for different markets), which utilises the very latest in LoRa technology, with optimised power performance. The Semtech chip is driven via the ARM Cortex M4F of the Nordic device.

The module is designed for battery-based operation. It is equipped with a range of deep-sleep modes to meet differing customer requirements. Its standby current is as low as 0.5uA. Receive and Transmit power are similarly best in class, with actual current for BLE at approx. 5mA, and LoRa dependent on chosen output power. The module can operate on Wide Area Networks and is compatible with the LoRaWAN open standard developed by the LoRa Alliance. It runs the Nordic Bluetooth SoftDevice which now supports a full Bluetooth V4.2 stack and is Bluetooth 5.0 ready. This product incorporates the very latest in Bluetooth Low Energy technology, with class leading performance in one single easy to use package.

Module prototypes are available now. Mass production of the modules will start in Q2 2019. Certification is pending. To support product developers, Insight SiP offers a complete development kit together with sample software that provides everything required out of the box to start developing a solution on day one.

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