Nordic Semiconductor’s nRF91 Series cellular IoT module is small, low power, and has optimum security features for both LTE-M and NB-IoT applications
Nordic Semiconductor is addressing the emerging low-power cellular IoT applications by rolling out its unique nRF91 Series cellular IoT module to all customers. The nRF9160 will be available within the next 24 hours from major global distributors such as Digi-Key Electronics, Mouser Electronics, and Premier Farnell (amongst others). The company claims that the module is significantly smaller, lower power, and has more security features than any other cellular IoT module launched to date for both LTE-M and NB-IoT applications. It also has a host of unique IoT-targeted features, is certified for global operation, and is dramatically easier to design-in.
Prime applications of the module include asset monitoring and tracking, utility metering, industrial (machinery) connectivity and predictive maintenance, smart city and infrastructure, agrotech (smart agriculture), and medical.
Compact SiP for LTE-M and NB-IoT Applications
The nRF9160 System-in-Package (SiP) has received GCF certification-the trusted mobile communications industry ‘quality mark’ for compliance to the 3GPP LTE specification and global cellular network interoperability-along with separately required FCC and CE regulatory certifications. This means the nRF9160 SiP is approved for deployment in cellular networks and cellular IoT product applications around the world.
Measuring just 10 x 16 x 1mm, the nRF9160 SiP is suitable for even compact wearable consumer and medical devices. It is also a complete solution that integrates everything a cellular connection and IoT application may need beyond requiring just an external battery, SIM, and antenna.
The SiP supports global operation with a single SiP variant thanks to the combination of Nordic’s multimode LTE-M / NB-IoT modem, SAW-less transceiver, and a custom RF front-end solution from Qorvo.
In parallel, the product is claimed as the first cellular IoT module to incorporate Arm’s latest Arm Cortex M-33 CPU core. This is supported by 1MB of Flash and 256kB of RAM on-board memory.
The module also incorporates Arm TrustZone and Arm CryptoCell security for Internet-level encryption and application protection.
Both these technologies are designed for highly energy-efficient embedded IoT products that require the highest levels of performance in processing, power consumption, and security, the company noted.
The nRF9160 SiP has 1MB of Flash plus 256 kB of RAM on-board memory with a broad range peripheral set, analog and digital interfaces, 32 GPIOs, a stand-alone modem with full LTE capability, plus a multiband RF front-end.
The module also has an integrated GPS support to allow a combination of GPS and cellular data to be used for more accurate positioning than either technology is capable of when used in isolation.
“Nordic Semiconductor expanded the application-range of Bluetooth by abstracting away from the designer all unnecessary technical complexity,” comments Peder Rand, Nordic Semiconductor’s Product Manager – Cellular IoT. “The pre-certified, ready-to-drop-in, LTE-M/NB-IoT nRF9160 SiP module promises to do the same for cellular IoT by taking a completely different approach to competing solutions. And it’s now available to everyone.”
“Among its many unique IoT-targeted features, one of the most key is security which is of paramount importance to any IoT application,” adds John Leonard, Tactical Marketing Manager at Nordic Semiconductor. “Arm TrustZone means the nRF9160 SiP can have areas specified as trusted execution zones and non-trusted zones. This means critical aspects such as cryptographic elements and key storage, for example, will reside in trusted areas where the outside world cannot get direct access. Allied with the nRF9160 SiP’s Arm CryptoCell security, this module is without question the cellular IoT device with the most advanced security on the market today.”
The nRF9160 SiP is supported by – and all available now – a development kit, SiP module samples, LTE-M firmware, and an SDK with application example for cloud connectivity. This includes Nordic’s ‘nRF Connect for Cloud’ cloud-based device management tool and ‘nRF Connect for Desktop’ PC-based tool, plus support for Segger Embedded Studio. These are all designed to help give customers a flying start with sensor-to-cloud IoT applications.
NB-IoT and GPS functionality is in limited sampling and will be made available for evaluation through firmware updates during Q1 2019.