What is Bluetooth?

Bluetooth is a wireless communication protocol that allows it’s users to send and receive data wirelessly over short distances.It utilises radio frequency to exchange data between devices. The typical frequency band is 2.4GHz. BLE or bluetooth low energy has quickly evolved over the last few years from Bluetooth 4.0 to Bluetooth 5.0 and Bluetooth 5.1. Although Bluetooth 4.2 chipsets are still the most common today, Bluetooth 5.0 support has rapidly been making its way to new devices.

Features:

  • Bluetooth technology enables two devices to be connected wirelessly, thus eliminates the need of using complicated wirings
  • Compared to wifi, it doesn’t require any active data connection to work. So the user can create a personal area network to send data from one device to another seamlessly.
  • You can send wide range of data files such as text, image audio-video etc. This makes it possible to make hands-free calls from mobile phones by using a headset or speakerphone in the car.

How Bluetooth Works?

Bluetooth Network consists of a minimum of 2 to a maximum of 8 peer devices. Usually a single device acts as a master and can have upto 7 slave devices. Master device sends pairing requests as radio waves in 79 different frequency bands known as channels.

Slave devices automatically detect and connect to the master device. They don’t interfere with one another because each of them uses different channels. If two devices want to pair, they pick a channel randomly and, if that’s already taken, it switches to another one.

Paired devices constantly change the frequency they’re using to minimize the risks of interference from other electrical appliances and also to improve security.

When multiple devices are communicating with one another in a group, the master device has full control over the network. The slave devices receive and obey instructions from the master. A device can join or exit the group at any time.

Most Commonly used Bluetooth Chips

Nordic Semiconductor:

Nordic has been a top BLE chipset vendor for many years. They have created many chipsets such as the nRF8001, nRF51822, nRF52832, nRF52840.Two specific features of Nordic devices are the software defined pin mapping, which allows most pins to be remappable to a specific function in software, as well as the PPI, GPIOTE and other peripherals that make low latency logic easy.

Texas Instruments:

Texas Instrument is another popular brand manufacturing industrial grade bluetooth chipsets Their most popular release is the CC2640 and variants, including the CC2642R2F which has increased amount of flash and RAM memory available. The sensor controller is an extremely low power co-processor that runs basic operations while the main processor is asleep.TI’s chipsets have great radio performance which allow long range.

Dialog Semiconductor:

Dialog’s devices have some unique capabilities. In particular, the low power consumption. These devices can run from different batteries and are integrated with many features in a small package. These features make them suitable for smartwatches and similar products, which is where they’ve been used.

ST Micro:

ST is a leader in Cortex-M processors and their line of processors is used in countless products. Their STM32WB55xx line up is the most advanced BLE devices that are based on the STM32L4 and that rival the best of BLE chipsets.

NXP:

NXP also added the Kinetis BLE line of BLE SoCs in addition to its own line of devices. One of the unique features of their chipset KW36 is the addition of a CAN bus, since these devices are targeted mostly at automotive applications. As the KWxx series are also automotive qualified.

Comparison of some most popular bluetooth chipset on the market

DeviceProtocolsBLE RF PerformanceProcessorFlash/RAMCurrent Consumption BLE @ 0dBm
Nordic nRF52840Bluetooth® 5.0, 802.15.4, Thread, Zigbee-95dBm / +8dBmCortex-M41MB / 64kB4.6mA / 4.6mA
TI CC2642RBluetooth® 5.0-97dBm/+5dBmCortex-M3352KB / 80kB5.1mA / 6.1mA
Dialog DA1469xBluetooth® 5.1-92dBm / +4dBmCortex-M3332 Mbit (ext.) / 512kB< 3.5mA
ST STM32WB55Bluetooth® 5.0, Zigbee, Thread-96dBm / +6dBmCortex-M4F1MB / 256kB4.5mA/5.2mA
NXP KW36Bluetooth® 5.0-95dBm / +3.5dBmCortex-M0+512kB / 64kB6.1mA / 6.8mA

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