Next generation Cordio Bluetooth IP

At Bluetooth World Asia 2018, Arm is introducing its third generation of Bluetooth radio IP, Bluetooth Mesh software and joint product offerings through ecosystem partners. This blog post details our new releases and what you can see at Bluetooth World Asia this year.

Bluetooth success continues to grow

There is no denying that the continued growth and success of Bluetooth technology has made it more pervasive today than ever before. The world is poised to begin another wave of explosive growth in Bluetooth, however for this to materialize there are a few barriers to overcome. Some barriers are somewhat simple to fix: such as cost and power consumption, feature-complete software. However, others, such as security and cloud connectivity, are complex and multifaceted. 

With the aim to address the need for low-cost, low-power, product-ready feature-complete IP, today Arm is introducing some new Arm Cordio products and will showcase them for the first time at Bluetooth World Asia this week.

New products being showcased at Bluetooth World Asia this week

If you’re attending Bluetooth World Asia this week, you can pop by the Arm Booth #49 and get an early glimpse of our new products, with our demonstrations. If you’re not attending the show, keep reading for all the information you need.

  • The first demo is a new Arm Cordio Bluetooth Mesh demo, featuring many light up elements connected via Bluetooth Mesh.
  • Then we also have two great examples of Arm Cordio-C50 radio IP enabling a wider ecosystem:
    • The first showcases an Aura RF front-end on SMIC 55 with the Arm Cordio-C50 digital baseband and software enabled beacons.
    • The second is an IMEC front-end with the Arm Cordio-C50 digital baseband and software, which has been interoperated with Arm radios.

The next generation RF front-end from Arm

Since their inception, we have seen several generations of Bluetooth low energy (BLE) products. Although power and performance are essential parameters in this space, new applications and proliferation is possible only if cost barriers are broken. Arm Cordio has been offering sub-volt RF front end since 2014 and our newest offering builds on this heritage. Our latest TSMC 40nm RF front-end product focuses on cost optimization while maintaining Arm’s strong heritage in low power. Cost optimization is achieved by a combination of die area and external bill of materials reductions, offering around a 70% cost reduction compared to the previous generation. Reduced development time is achieved with complete RF integration and improved test flow, which further reduces the cost of building and testing a Bluetooth SoC.

The next generation RF front-end 

Figure 1: The next generation RF front-end - Arm adds a new cost-optimized RF front end on TSMC 40 nm to its portfolio of complete solutions. 

Flexible architecture enables choice to the market

Two years ago, Arm announced a flexible, narrow digital interface, which was dubbed the ‘radio front-end interface (RFI)’. This enabled support of different RF front ends for Arm’s digital and software engine. This was the first attempt to define a standard RFI interface, which was well overdue in the market, due to the need to support varied front-end process and foundry support requirements (dictated by strategy, cost restraints, government initiatives and alignment with other related IP). Arm continues to focus on offering the “sweet spot” for different process nodes, while collaborating with other companies to provide choice and flexibility to our partners.

We have been working with both Aura and IMEC as our lead partners in this initiative and are happy to announce that we have silicon proven IP designed to the Arm RFI specification and operational with the Arm baseband/digital back end solutions. The SMIC 55 offering with the Aura front-end and the feature complete BLE 5 Cordio-C50 digital IP brings a complete, qualified robust solution, which is particularly attractive for the Chinese market.

Enhancing Arm’s portfolio with Arm Cordio-Mesh

Arm continues to enable partners stay competitive and current with the latest versions of the BLE standard. Which is why Arm has enhanced our robust silicon-proven, fully-qualified Bluetooth 5 software portfolio with Mesh capability. Cordio-Mesh extends the network range of Bluetooth low energy by enabling many-to-many device communications. Mesh is optimized for creating large-scale device networks. It is ideally suited for building automation, sensor networks, and other IoT solutions. Cordio Mesh is a new protocol stack that sits on top of the BLE stack and is compatible with both Cordio-B50 and Cordio-B42 Stack and profile offerings.  

 Introducing Arm Cordio-Mesh

Figure 2: Introducing Arm Cordio-Mesh

Arm’s commitment to connectivity continues to grow

Arm continues to be committed to supplying complete solutions in the wireless connectivity space. Cordio Bluetooth low energy radio IP is silicon proven and qualified from RF-to-stack, whilst offering full qualification credentials, which can be passed on to the end customer thus simplifying the qualification process. Having a complete solution from RF front end to software stack enables Arm to provide time to market advantages and lower development cost. Each solution includes a pre-qualified, self-contained radio block in hard and soft IP configuration, related link layer firmware, stack and profiles along with guidelines for design, test, integration, qualification and application development. 

We recognize the benefits of having a complete, pre-qualified silicon proven solution, however, we also value providing our partners with choice. As with the RFI interface, Cordio is designed to enable developers to get from design concept to end-user production with maximum flexibility. 

The new IP we are launching today adds to the already robust connectivity portfolio and equips our partners with more building blocks and more flexibility to build the right connectivity solution for their application and market. For more information on Arm Cordio, join us at Bluetooth World Asia this week - we’ll be demoing Arm solutions on booth #49.

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