Nordic Semi introduces fourth generation of multiprotocol SoCs

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Nordic Semiconductor has introduced its fourth generation of multiprotocol Systems-on-Chip (SoCs), the nRF54H20.

The nRF54 Series follows on from the nRF51, nRF52, and nRF53 series, and introduces a new hardware architecture fabricated on GlobalFoundries’ 22FDX process node. The nRF54H20 belongs to the nRF54H Series, the “H” branch of the wider nRF54 Series.

The SoC is able to support Bluetooth 5.4 and future Bluetooth specifications, plus LE Audio, Bluetooth mesh, Thread, and Matter, and the nRF54H20 will be the foundation for a new wave of IoT end-products, according to NXP.

“Decades of ultra-low power wireless expertise have come together to form the nRF54 Series,” said Svenn-Tore Larsen, CEO, Nordic Semiconductor. “Our first SoC from the fourth generation of Bluetooth LE solutions, the nRF54H20, not only represents a significant milestone for Nordic, but also allows Nordic’s customers to build end-products that are far more advanced and efficient.”

“A disruptive product like the nRF54H20 happens through a long-term commitment to R&D, and Nordic has been willing to make that commitment,” added Svein-Egil Nielsen, CTO/EVP R&D and Strategy, Nordic Semiconductor. “Early feedback has been positive, and Nordic’s customers can be assured that the nRF54H20 is just one SoC in an ambitious roadmap of next-generation IoT solutions that will far exceed their expectations.”  

The nRF54H20 comes with multiple Arm Cortex-M33 processors and multiple RISC-V coprocessors. The processors are clocked at up to 320 MHz and each processor is optimised for a specific type of workload. 

The dedicated application processor features double the processing power (2x CoreMark) of the application processor in Nordic’s current flagship, the nRF5340 SoC, while the nRF54H20’s computing resources are supported by integrated memory comprising 2 MB non-volatile memory and 1 MB of RAM.

This high level of integration will enable developers to shrink their designs by replacing multiple components, for example application MCU, external memory, and wireless SoC, with just one highly compact device.

In addition to advanced wearables, smart home, medical, and LE Audio applications, the nRF54H20 SoC is suitable for applications demanding complex machine learning (ML) and support for sensor fusion at the edge.

The nRF54H20 features several new digital and analogue interfaces, including a high performance external memory interface (400 MBps), high-speed USB (480 Mbps), two I3C peripherals, a CAN FD controller, and a 14-bit ADC. These advanced interfaces are in addition to many other analogue and digital interfaces integrated on the nRF54H20.

An all-new, class-leading multiprotocol 2.4 GHz radio ensures the nRF54H20 SoC is the first to offer -100 dBm RX sensitivity when receiving a 1 Mbps Bluetooth LE signal. Combined with up to 10 dBm TX power, the nRF54H20 offers an ample link budget for enhanced robustness and longer range. The radio RX current consumption is just half that of the nRF5340 and for applications that are mainly receivers, such as earbuds and wearables, the low energy consumption allows for more compact batteries or extended battery life.

The nRF54H20 also comes with state-of-the-art security that has been designed for PSA Certified Level 3, the highest level in the Platform Security Architecture (PSA) Certified IoT security standard. The SoC supports security services such as Secure Boot, Secure Firmware Update, and Secure Storage. It has cryptographic accelerators that are hardened against side-channel attacks and tamper sensors that detect an attack in progress and take appropriate action.

“The nRF54H20 is a major technical achievement and we expect our nRF54 Series to disrupt the low power wireless segment,” said Kjetil Holstad, EVP Product Management, Nordic Semiconductor. “It is not just an evolution of our wireless SoC line, but a revolution. We look forward to our customers using the nRF54 Series to build the next wave of advanced and complex IoT end-products.” 

The nRF54H20 SoC is now available for sampling to selected customers.