Nordic Semiconductor has announced the launch of a development kit designed for wireless audio projects: the nRF5340 Audio DK, featuring Bluetooth Low Energy Audio (LE Audio) support and a dual-processor Arm Cortex-M33 processing system.
“[Bluetooth] LE Audio represents one of those rare occasions where there's no technical trade-offs limiting what a designer can do. It brings better audio quality, including TWS [True Wireless Stereo], more robust wireless connectivity and vastly improved battery life," claims Vince Hagen, manager for LE Audio at Nordic Semiconductor.
"An engineer can, for example, design earbuds with incredible sound quality and extended battery life by replacing Classic Audio with LE Audio. Alternatively, they can use smaller batteries to shrink their product's form factor and direct material costs, while still matching the original product's playtime."
Actually developing a Bluetooth LE Audio design, however, requires a starting point — which is where Nordic hopes its nRF5340 Audio DK will shine. Powered by the Nordic system-on-chip of the same name, the kit features a 128MHz Arm Cortex-M33 application processor with 512kB of RAM and 1MB of flash storage alongside a lower-power 64MHz Cortex-M33 core with 64kB RAM and 256kB of flash designed specifically for running the LE Audio protocol stack. This, interestingly, makes for what Nordic claims to be "the world's first wireless SoC with two Arm Cortex-M33 processors."
Alongside the processors are an nPM1100 power management IC, with integrated battery charging up to 400mA, a Cirrus Logic CS47L63 digital signal processor (DSP), two 3.5mm analog audio jacks for amplified headphone output and microphone input, an on-board digital microphone, five user-programmable buttons as inputs with further four LED outputs, an SD card slot for storage, and connectors for all interfaces including otherwise unused general-purpose input/output (GPIO) pins brought out to Arduino Uno-style female headers — plus, for sheer aesthetics, an RGB-lit logo. There's a USB Type-C connector for power and data, plus a SEGGER J-Link debugger.
For those looking beyond Bluetooth LE Audio experiments, meanwhile, the development board also supports standard Bluetooth Low Energy, Bluetooth Mesh, 802.15.4, Thread, Zigbee, ANT, 2.4GHz proprietary protocols, and near-field communication (NFC) through its on-board PCB antenna. A 1.35Ah battery is supplied as standard — though Nordic warns that most developmental use-cases for the kit will require the purchase of two boards, one to transmit and the other to receive.
The Nordic nRF5340 Audio DK is available in the channel now at $169 per unit; Nordic is hosting a technical webinar on the board and LE Audio in general on May 18. More information is available on the company website.