Bringing Bluetooth® 5 to broader markets with the first CC2640R2F-based certified module

At the onset of 2017, the release of Bluetooth® 5 turned heads with its offerings of longer range and faster data throughput. And TI’s CC2640R2F wireless microcontroller (MCU) was the first to place this new technology in the hands of development engineers.

The Laird SaBLE-x-R2 certified module, based on this device, helps simplify the integration of wireless technologies, mitigating design risk, minimizing certification testing requirements and lowering costs. To better understand how a Bluetooth 5 certified module solution allows product managers and design engineers to bring Internet of Things (IoT) differentiation to their product lines, we asked Laird about this module.

Q: What is the SaBLE-x-R2?
A: The SaBLE-x-R2 (pictured in Figure 1) is the first module on the market based on the new CC2640R2F wireless MCU. The SaBLE-x-R2 includes Bluetooth 5 capabilities in a self-contained, broadly certified module to better address the growing data and performance demands for IoT deployments.

In 2015, LSR (now a Laird business) introduced the SaBLE-x, which was the first commercially available module based on TI’s SimpleLink CC2640 chipset. The SaBLE-x-R2 builds on the field-proven hardware of the SaBLE-x to provide an easy upgrade path for Bluetooth 5 connectivity with the CC2640R2F. Designed to remove complexity and accelerate development time, it’s pin-to-pin compatible with the original SaBLE-x hardware, which means that upgrading does not require any printed circuit board (PCB) layout changes.

Figure 1: The Laird SaBLE-x-R2 certified module

Q: What makes Laird modules like the SaBLE-x-R2 stand out from its competitors?
A: While IoT technologies are still evolving, Laird’s Connectivity group has more than 35 years of experience enabling wireless product development. Laird helps its customers integrate wireless features faster, with minimal design risk, certification testing time and expenses, by ensuring that its modules are industrial temperature-rated, have the broadest combination of country certifications and provide pre-certified antenna options. Laird’s development support and electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) testing services provide the precise level and type of support needed for IoT projects throughout a product’s entire design life cycle.

Q: There are many wireless connectivity technologies on the market. What is it about Bluetooth that makes designers embed it in their product applications?
A: Bluetooth offers an excellent solution for creating an easy-to-commission tether between products and a consumer’s mobile device. This gives developers much more design freedom to create interfaces that improve the product experience, reduce product size and/or lower component costs. Plus, Bluetooth’s ubiquitous nature means that consumers can use their mobile devices to harness cloud connectivity for technical support, an improved user experience and simplified reordering of accessories, while employing security methodologies first introduced with Bluetooth v4.2.

Bluetooth 5 expands the benefits and possible applications through enhancements that extend the signal range, increase data throughput or expand broadcasting capabilities in beaconing applications.

Q: Why did Laird choose TI’s SimpleLink CC2640R2F wireless MCU for its Bluetooth module?
A: We have a long-standing partnership as both a modules and TI Design Network partner with TI, and with that comes firsthand knowledge of TI’s leadership in Bluetooth technologies, specifically in terms of its Bluetooth low energy stack. With the CC2640R2F device, TI offers both the necessary hardware and software to support all major enhancements introduced with Bluetooth 5.

Q: Where do you see your technology/solution going in the next five years?
A: For the IoT to meet its full potential, thousands of companies that have never developed a wireless product will need to follow the same path. That is why Laird’s Connectivity group, with its certified radio-frequency modules, will continue to rapidly innovate in the years ahead. Our industry-renowned technical support, IoT product design and development services can help partner with other companies developing these products to accelerate innovations.