Nordic, MediaTek, and U-blox Take on New Wireless Frontiers


As the IoT movement gains steam, the market has seen a recent surge in wireless module and platform releases. The industry’s leading players, including Nordic Semiconductor, MediaTek, and U-blox, are stepping up to the challenge, unveiling new wireless solutions to push the boundaries of connectivity, efficiency, and integration. 

 

Nordic Announces New SiP for Cellular IoT

Nordic Semiconductor recently unveiled the nRF9151 system-in-package (SiP), a significant addition to its nRF91 series of cellular IoT devices. 

This new offering stands out for its compact, pre-certified, and highly integrated design, which encapsulates a system-on-chip (SoC), power management, and RF front end. Nordic claims the nRF9151 is 20% smaller than its predecessors. This size reduction is particularly beneficial for developing wearable devices, smart sensors, and other applications where space is at a premium. 

 

The nRF9151 SiP. Image used courtesy of Nordic Semiconductor
 

One of the key features of the nRF9151 is its support for a new power class—Class 5 20dBm output power—in addition to the nominal Class 3 23dBm. This flexibility allows developers to more easily meet the requirements for battery-powered products, offering a balance between power consumption and performance. The nRF9151 is also designed to seamlessly integrate into Nordic’s comprehensive cellular IoT ecosystem, which includes hardware, software, tools, and nRF Cloud Services, thereby simplifying the development process.

The device is fully compatible with the nRF9161 and nRF9131, sharing the same modem firmware and support in Nordic’s nRF Connect SDK. This compatibility ensures that customers can start developing with the nRF9161 DK and smoothly transition to the nRF9151, leveraging the unified and scalable software solution.

The nRF9151 is currently available for sampling to select customers.

 

MediaTek Introduces T300 5G RedCap Platform

MediaTek announced its T300 5G RedCap platform at MWC 2024. This platform, the first of its kind in the industry, integrates a 5G RedCap RF SoC with MediaTek’s M60 modem. It adheres to the 3GPP Release-17 standard, providing substantial improvements over previous 4G IoT solutions in terms of power efficiency and performance.

The T300 platform is designed to address the unique demands of IoT applications with a simplified and reliable antenna design. The M60 modem at the heart of the T300 significantly lowers power consumption by up to 60% compared to LTE Cat-4 alternatives and 70% compared to existing 5G eMMB solutions. Such reductions in power usage are crucial to enhance energy sustainability across various deployments, including industrial IoT, mobile markets, security, logistics, and edge devices.

 

T300

MediaTek says its T300 supports a variety of always-connected IoT devices, replacing existing Cat-4 LTE connectivity in industrial, mobile, and edge applications. Image used courtesy of MediaTek
 

Technical specifications of the T300 include downlink and uplink peak rates of up to 227 Mbps and 122 Mbps, respectively. This performance is supported by a variety of energy-efficiency enhancements like paging early indication, UE subgrouping, transmission range switch (TRS) while idle, PDCCH monitoring adaptation, and radio link monitoring (RLM) while active. The platform also incorporates an 800-MHz Arm Cortex-A35 core to ensure responsive operation.

The T300 platform uses MediaTek’s UltraSave 4.0 technology to further reduce power consumption. It also includes 5G SA and LTE & NR-FR1 (20-MHz) support, enhanced reliability through up to 256 QAM DL/UL, 1T2R MIMO / 1CC support for lower latency, and Dual SIM single active (DSSA) along with network slicing to accommodate a wide range of IoT applications.

 

U-blox Releases Wi-Fi 6-Enabled NORA-W4 Modules

U-blox has introduced the NORA-W4 module integrating the latest Wi-Fi 6 technology, Bluetooth Low Energy 5.3, Thread, and Zigbee. 

The NORA-W4 module comes in a compact package size of 10.4 x 14.3 x 1.9 mm, making it suitable for devices where space is at a premium. It is built on the Espressif ESP32-C6 SoC, enabling direct operation over Wi-Fi for battery-powered IoT nodes. This capability simplifies the implementation process and reduces system-level costs by eliminating the need for a Bluetooth gateway.

The module’s use of Wi-Fi 6 technology significantly reduces network congestion, thereby enhancing throughput and reducing latency in crowded environments like factories and warehouses. It is fully backward compatible with Wi-Fi 4, ensuring seamless integration into existing infrastructures. The NORA-W4 module also supports the Matter protocol, facilitating interoperability with other Matter-enabled smart home devices. 

 

The NORA-W4 module

The NORA-W4 module. Image used courtesy of U-blox
 

Available in six variants, the NORA-W4 module flexibly supports several CPU options (open CPU or u-connectXpress), antenna configurations (antenna pin or PCB antenna), and memory sizes (4 MB or 8 MB flash memory). This versatility, combined with its advanced features, makes the NORA-W4 module an attractive option for developers looking to access the benefits of Wi-Fi 6 in their IoT projects.

 

New Options for IoT

The recent announcements from Nordic Semiconductor, MediaTek, and U-blox highlight some of the priorities of the wireless technology sector: size, power efficiency, and versatility to meet the diverse needs of the IoT market. 



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