u-blox adds ultra-small high performance Bluetooth 5.0 module to its BMD portfolio

u-blox announced Tuesday its latest ultra-small, high performance Bluetooth low energy 5.0 module, the BMD-380. Measuring only 7.5 x 9.5 mm including the ceramic antenna, it features Bluetooth 5.0 specifications, with its long range protocol suitable for implementing communication in harsh radio environments. 

It also supports IEEE802.15.4 (Thread and Zigbee). All these features make the BMD-380 high performing for use cases in industrial automation, healthcare, smart cities, smart buildings and homes, and high-end wearables.

The BMD-380 is based on a Nordic Semiconductor nRF52840 System on Chip (SoC), which includes a 64 MHz Arm Cortex-M4 microcontroller with integrated floating-point unit, 256 kB RAM, and 1 MB of flash memory. In addition, it provides a wide range of hardware interfaces including I2C, SPI, QSPI, GPIO, ADC, and USB, making it powerful enough to include both communication stacks and advanced applications. 

The BMD-380 also features Arm’s TrustZone CryptoCell cryptographic unit, which simplifies the implementation of security features necessary to build robust IoT ecosystems.

With an Arm Cortex-M4 with FPU processor, integrated 2.4 GHz transceiver, and an integrated antenna, the BMD-380 provides a complete RF solution allowing faster time to market with reduced development costs. Providing full use of the Nordic Semiconductor nRF52840’s capabilities and peripherals, the BMD-380 can power the most demanding applications, while simplifying designs and reducing BOM costs. 

The BMD- 380 is an ideal solution for designs that require Bluetooth 5 features or 802.15.4 based networking for Thread and Zigbee. Increased integration with built in USB and 5.5 V compatible DC/DC supply reduces design complexity and BOM cost, while expanding possible applications.

u-blox expects the BMD-380 module to be used where customers have limited space to implement their designs, need good radio performance, and want to control the bill of materials for their target device by using the onboard processor as the main system MCU.

The BMD-380 has two internal regulator stages that each contain an LDO and DCDC regulator. The first regulator, REG0, is fed by the VCCH pin and can accept a source voltage of 2.5 V to 5.5 V. The output of REG0 is connected to the VCC pin and the input of the second regulator stage REG1. REG1 supplies power to the module core and can accept an input source voltage of 1.7V to 3.6V.

Depending on how the VCC and VCCH pins are connected, the module will operate in one of two modes: Normal/Low Voltage (LV) or High Voltage (HV). The voltage present on the VCC pin is always the GPIO high logic level voltage, regardless of power mode.

The USB interface on the BMD-380 can be used when the module is in either Normal (LV) or High Voltage (HV) mode. The BMD-380 USB PHY is powered by a dedicated, internal LDO regulator that is fed by the VBUS pin (66). This means that applying power to only the VBUS pin will not power the rest of the module. In order for the USB PHY to operate, VBUS must be externally powered.

The new module extends u-blox’s current BMD-3 series of Bluetooth low energy products. It draws on the company’s extensive expertise in RF circuitry, high-frequency board design, and dense packaging to deliver a smaller module with the same high performance as the rest of the range. 

The BMD-380 module will be certified for use in Europe, the US, Canada, and Australia. First engineering samples will be available in the first quarter of next year.

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