Nordic Semiconductor, a fabless semiconductor company that develops ultra-low power wireless SoCs (System on a Chip) and connectivity devices in the sub 2.4 GHz ISM band, has developed nRF9160, a fully integrated, cellular low-power System-in-Package (SiP), making the latest LTE technology accessible to a wide range of applications and developers. With full integration and pre-certification for global operation, this SiP solves the complex wireless design challenges as well as the comprehensive set of qualifications needed to utilize cellular technology.
This nRF9160 incorporates an ARM Cortex-M33 application processor solely for applications, a full LTE modem, RF Front End (RFFE) and power management IC. The Arm Cortex-M33 application processor is supported by 1 MB of on-chip flash, 256 KB RAM, ARM TrustZone, and ARM CryptoCell security for internet-level encryption and application protection, thereby resulting in an advanced application development possible in a single device solution.
This SiP consists of an integrated modem that supports both LTE-M and NB-IoT and can operate globally removing any need for regional variants. All power-saving features including eDRX and PSM are supported as is with IPv4/IPv6 support up to transport and security (TCP/TLS) level. The modem firmware is upgradable via secure, encrypted Firmware Over-The-Air (FOTA) updates.
A GNSS receiver is integrated into the radio offering various modes of operation to suit a wide selection of applications that employ location-tracking functionality. The nRF9160 SiP also supports different cellular-based location features for several use cases.
The integrated cryptographic and security features enables the nRF9160 SiP to meet the latest requirements on internet security and authentication. By including trusted execution capability on the application processor, it takes security a step further by securing the most critical processes and peripherals in the application. In addition, the on-chip modem is its own security island.
The LTE stack layers L1-L3, IPv4/IPv6, TCP/UDP, TLS/DTLS are all part of the modem firmware. The application processor communicates with the LTE modem through BSD secure sockets APIs and contains the application layer protocols such as HTTP(S), CoAP, MQTT and LWM2M, and the application itself.
The nRF9160 LTE modem supports both SIM and eSIM, plug-in or soldered. It provides power to the SIM and handles all communication automatically. In addition to this, a broad selection of general interfaces and peripherals included on this SiP are 12-bit ADC, RTC, SPI, I²C, I²S, UARTE, PDM and PWM.
The nRF9160 hardware and development kits are now in production and are suitable for the full end-to-end sensor to cloud development. The company is still developing features and optimizing performance to push the limits of what was earlier possible.
Click here to learn more about this new System-in-Package (SiP) solution.