Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Dialog leverages Bluetooth 5.1 for consumer IoT

Steve Rogerson
March 5, 2019



UK fabless semiconductor company Dialog Semiconductor unveiled at last week’s Embedded World in Nuremberg a family of Bluetooth Low Energy SoCs for wireless connectivity in various IoT connected consumer applications.
 
The SmartBond DA1469x family includes four variants, and builds on the company’s existing SmartBond products adding processing power, resources, range and battery life.
 
“We see our highest growth in the IoT space,” said Erik Peters (pictured), product marketing manager, “and we are making a big push into the automotive space.”
 
The device contains all the peripherals for a smart watch on one chip, and Peters said it was the lowest cost option for this application. It can also be used for other connected consumer products such as toothbrushes and appliances.
 
The devices’ three integrated cores have each been chosen for their capabilities to sense, process and communicate between connected devices.
 
There is a dedicated application processor based on the Arm Cortex-M33 processor. The M33 provides processing power for more intensive applications, such as high-end fitness trackers, smart home devices and virtual reality game controllers.
 
The range provides developers with connectivity to future-proof their devices to fit the needs of multiple applications. Its integrated radio offers double the range compared with its predecessor together with an Arm Cortex-M0+ based software-programmable packet engine that implements protocols and provides flexibility for wireless communications.
 
On the connectivity front, an emerging application is for manufacturers to deploy accurate positioning through the angle-of-arrival and angle-of-departure features of the recently introduced Bluetooth 5.1 standard. With its radio front-end performance and configurable protocol engine, the DA1469x complies with this version of the standard and opens opportunities for devices that require accurate indoor positioning such as building access and remote keyless entry systems.
 
To enhance the sensing functionality, the M33 application processor and M0+ protocol engine are complemented with a sensor node controller, which is based on a programmable micro-DSP that runs autonomously and independently processes data from the sensors connected to its digital and analogue interfaces, waking the application processor only when needed. In addition to this power-saving feature, a power management unit (PMU) controls the different processing cores and only activates them as needed.
 
The SoCs have up to 144DMips, 512kbyte of ram, memory protection, floating-point unit, dedicated crypto engine to enable end-to-end security, and expandable memories.
 
The PMU also provides three regulated power rails and one LDO output to supply external system components, removing the requirement for a separate power management IC. Additionally, the family comes with value-add interfaces including a display driver, audio interface, USB, high-accuracy ADC, haptic driver capable of driving ERM and LRA motors, and a programmable stepping motor controller.
 
Developers can use the firm’s SmartSnippets software development suite, which has tools to develop applications on the MCUs.
 
The DA1469x variants will start volume production in the first half of 2019. Samples and development kits are available