Nordic Semi says NB-IoT/LTE-M module will “kick-start new wave” of cellular IoT apps
Nordic Semiconductor’s new cellular IoT module, billed as the world’s smallest and lowest power, according to its maker, could “kick-start a new wave” of cellular IoT applications, including in tracking, metering, industrial intelligence, and smart cities.
The Trondheim-based firm said its nRF9160 ‘system-in-package’ (SiP) is easier to work with than any other cellular IoT module, as well as offering a smaller form-factor, lower-power consumption, and higher-grade security. Its small size (10x16x1mm) and high power (covering “everything beyond just an external battery, SIM, and antenna”) make it more like an integrated chip than a module, said Nordic.
It will make LTE-M and NB-IoT more attractive to IoT developers and more popular for IoT applications; specifically, Nordic said the nRF9160 will suit NB-IoT and LTE-M applications for asset tracking, utility metering, industrial connectivity, industrial analytics, smart city operations, smart agriculture, and medical functions.
Peder Rand, product manager for cellular IoT at Nordic Semiconductor, commented: “Nordic expanded the application-range of Bluetooth by abstracting away from the designer all unnecessary technical complexity; the LTE-M/NB-IoT nRF9160 SiP module promises to do the same for cellular IoT.”
The module includes Nordic’s multimode LTE-M / NB-IoT modem, SAW-less transceiver, and a custom RF front-end solution from Qorvo. The North Carolina semiconductor firm also provides advanced packaging, and its MicroShield technology. It is also the first cellular IoT module to incorporate Arm’s latest Arm Cortex M-33 CPU core, supported by 1MB of Flash and 256kB of RAM, as well as Arm’s TrustZone and CryptoCell security.
Nordic is offering the nRF9160 with integrated GPS support, as well, to allow a combination of GPS and cellular data for more accurate positionin.
The nRF9160 is Nordic’s first release for the cellular IoT market, having made its name in Bluetooth chips. It has GCF certification for compliance with 3GPP LTE specifications, along with FCC and CE regulatory certifications. It is available from distributors Digi-Key Electronics, Mouser Electronics, and Premier Farnell, among others. Development kits, module samples, and LTE-M firmware are available now.
Nordic claims over 100 customers are already taking pre-samples.