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Qorvo Adds Bluetooth to IoT Mix

February 14, 2017

Author: Loyd Case

Qorvo’s new GP695 integrates four low-power wireless protocols in a single microcontroller. The IoT-client MCU combines a Cortex-M4 CPU with a low-power 2.4GHz radio supporting IEEE 802.15.4, Bluetooth, Thread, and ZigBee. The radio can multiplex several protocols to connect with different devices in a connected home. The new chip is sampling now and expected to ship in volume by 2Q17.

The GP695 uses a multichannel 2.4GHz radio to multiplex different connections, switching protocols as needed. It implements 802.15.4, layering ZigBee 3.0 and Thread on top of that protocol and achieving a maximum throughput of 250kbps. BLE can run at higher data rates of up to 2Mbps.

The MCU clocks the Cortex-M4 at up to 64MHz and, depending on the configuration, includes up to 64KB of on-chip RAM along with 512KB of flash storage. The RAM and the M4 can handle a network protocol stack plus a client application, and the flash memory is enough to store multiple protocol stacks and small applications. The GP695 offers more RAM and storage than Qorvo’s earlier BP691, a ZigBee-only device with 16KB of RAM and 248KB of flash memory.

The GP695 adds BLE to Qorvo’s mix and represents the second client-SoC generation. The company previously offered the GP691, which implemented only ZigBee. Moreover, that older chip had a less powerful Cambridge Consultants XAP CPU. Moving to ARM gives developers a more familiar CPU platform, and adding BLE broadens application support. Performance also improves and, coupled with the larger memory, enables more-complex protocols such as Thread, which the GP691 lacked.

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