Tag Archives: Chip Design Magazine

Chip Design talks smart Bluetooth, sensors and more

CES 2015 saw countless Internet of Things (IoT) devices, ranging from Bluetooth gateways and smart sensors to intensive cloud-based data processors and hackathons – all powered by Atmel | SMART ARM-based microcontrollers.

Writing for Chip Design Magazine, Editorial Director John Blyler recounted the world’s largest electronics show by elaborating upon the underlying the show, which was indeed, connectivity.

“The only difference each year is the way in which the connectivity is express in products. For example, this year’s event showcased an increase in gateway networking devices that permitted Bluetooth Low Energy-equipped gadgets to connect to a Wi-Fi router or other interfaces with the outside world,” Blyler shares.

According to a new IHS report, the global market for low-power, Bluetooth Smart integrated circuits (IC) will see shipments rise nearly tenfold over the next five years. Not only will the worldwide Bluetooth Smart and Smart Ready market be valued at $3.9 billion by 2020, Bluetooth-enabled device shipments will approach the four billion unit mark by next year as well.


This is good news for very low power wireless semiconductor intellectual property (IP) and device manufacturers in the wearable and connected markets, Blyler adds. “One example out of many is Atmel’s BTLC1000 chip, which the company claims will help improve battery life by over 30% of current devices. The chip architecture is based on a ARM Cortex-M0 processor.”

Expanding upon the Atmel SmartConnect wireless portfolio, the BTLC1000 is a Bluetooth Smart link controller integrated circuit that connects as a companion to any Atmel AVR or Atmel | SMART MCU through a UART or SPI API requiring minimal resource on the host side. The ultra-low power solution is capable of achieving sub-1µA in standby mode, while delivering the industry’s best dynamic power consumption and increasing battery life by as much as one year for certain applications.

Giving its unprecedented 2.1mm X 2.1mm Wafer Level Chipscale Package (WLCSP), the Bluetooth Smart controller is ideal for the rapidly growing wearables and IoT realms, not limited to portable medical, activity trackers, human Interface devices, gaming controllers, and beacons and much more.


For those unfamiliar with the technology, Bluetooth Smart is the intelligent, low-power version of traditional Bluetooth wireless technology that works with existing smartphone and tablet applications, and brings connectivity to everyday devices ranging from toothbrushes to heartrate monitors.

“Bluetooth Smart and tiny ultra-low power devices are vital for the wearables market and Atmel have a triple play with their BTLC1000 chip… which has a Cortex-M0 processor on-board and battery life improved 30% over current devices. So here is a perfect example of my point, this device is smaller, uses less power and combines more functionality so after it samples in March it will make its way into new products that simply couldn’t exist before.  What kind of predictions can we make from this you may ask? Things like smart bandages that take your temperature and remind you to take your antibiotics or food packaging that warns of spoilage, the possibilities expand every year. Expect to see more Bluetooth connected ‘things’ at CES 2016. This is an important step in the Internet of Things becoming a reality and that could be an inflection point,” David Blaza recently shared in the ARM Connected Community.

Blyler goes on to note that in order for the IoT to be useful, sensor data at the edge of the connectivity node must be communicated to the cloud for high-performance processing of all the data.

“Next to connectivity, sensors are the defining component of any IoT technology. Maybe that is why sensor companies have been a growing presence on the CES show floor. This year, sensor-related vendors accounted for over 10% of total exhibitors. Many new IoT sensor technology is implemented using tiny MEMS physical structures.”

Want to read more? You can find the entire write-up here. To explore Atmel’s latest Bluetooth ultra-low power solution for the IoT, you can also do so here.