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New low power mode for dual core Bluetooth chip in ‘AirTags’ Technology News | January 18, 2024 Renesas Electronics has developed a low power mode for a new dual core Bluetooth wireless microcontroller chip for positioning tags. The…

New low power mode for dual core Bluetooth chip in ‘AirTags’

Technology News
January 18, 2024
Nick Flaherty

Renesas Electronics has developed a low power mode for a new dual core Bluetooth wireless microcontroller chip for positioning tags.

The Renesas DA14592 Bluetooth Low Energy (LE) 5.2 wireless microcontroller is the company’s lowest power consumption and smallest, multi-core ARM device for the next generation of designs for ‘AirTags’.

The design balances tradeoffs between on-chip memory (RAM/ROM/Flash) and SoC die size with Cortex-M33 and Cortex-M0 cores for cost. The 256 kB of embedded Flash accompanied by 96 kB of RAM, 16 kB of Cache RAM and 288 kB ROM (containing the Bluetooth LE stack). The embedded Flash or SRAM may be expanded externally through QSPI.

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The chip is aimed at emerging ‘crowd-sourced location’ (CSL) tracking designs that will compete with Apple’s AirTags, as well as applications such as connected medical, asset tracking, human interface devices, metering and PoS readers.

The key to the chip is a new low-power mode to give 2.3mA radio transmit current at 0dBm and 1.2mA radio receive current. It also supports an ultra-low hibernation current of only 90nA, extending shelf-life for end-products shipped with ‘battery connected’, and ultra-low active current at 34µA/MHz for products requiring significant application processing.

The 64MHz wireless microcontroller typically only requires 6 external components and operates from the system clock as a highly accurate on-chip RCX removes the need for a sleep mode crystal in the majority of applications.

The lower bill of materials, coupled with the DA14592’s small packages measuring 3.32mm x 2.48mm for the WLCSP and 5.1mm x 4.3mm for the FCQFN, also presents a small design footprint. The DA14592 also includes a high-precision, sigma-delta ADC, up to 32 GPIOs and unlike other SoCs in its class, it offers a QSPI supporting external memory (Flash or RAM) expansion for applications requiring extra memory.

Renesas has integrated all external components required for a Bluetooth LE module to speed up designs. Emphasis has been placed in the design of this module to ensure maximum design flexibility by comprehensively routing the DA14592’s functions to the outside of the module and using castellated pins for easy/low-cost module attachment during development.

One key application Renesas is showcasing with the DA14592 and DA14592MOD is ‘Crowd-Sourced’ Locationing, a market projected to reach over US$29bn in North America alone by 2031 according to IMIR Market Research based on Apple’s sales of AirTags.

Google recently announced plans to offer a Find My Device crowd-sourced location network as well and Renesas is planning reference designs with the chip for both mobile operating systems as soon as Google’s Find My Device network becomes available.

These reference designs will not only accelerate tag designs but will also enable manufacturers of products that may be lost or stolen to easily attach the DA14592 to their existing product to render their product globally locatable utilizing billions of smartphones, thereby differentiating their products and enhancing end-customer value. Using the DA14592MOD will also remove the need for worldwide regulatory certifications, reducing development costs and further accelerating time-to-market.

“The DA14592 and DA14592MOD extend our leadership in Bluetooth LE SoCs with our trademark low power consumption and best-in-class eBOMs,” said Davin Lee, Sr. Vice President and General Manager of the Analog and Connectivity Product Group for Renesas. “In addition, we have listened to our customers and continue to expand our product support by offering reference designs for applications such as crowd-sourced location, helping our customers to more easily differentiate their products, delivering premium value while maintaining lowest costs.”

As well as the module for AirTags, Renesas has also used the DA14592 in a reference design for Instrument Panel for Light Electric Vehicles.

The DA14592 is in mass production today with the DA14592MOD targeted for world-wide regulatory certifications in 2Q24.

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