u-blox Unveils New Matter-Capable Bluetooth Low Energy Modules, the ALMA-B1 and NORA-B2

Delivering a choice of high-performance multi-core edge compute or low-power single-core models, u-blox targets two ends of the IoT market.

Gareth Halfacree
2 months agoInternet of Things / HW101

Location tracking and communication specialist u-blox has announced two new Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and IEEE 802.15.4 Thread/Matter-compatible modules, powered by Nordic Semiconductor's latest low-power nRF54-family systems-on-chips (SoCs): the ALMA-B1 and NORA-B2.

Designed, u-blox says, with the needs of the Internet of Things (IoT) in mind — targeting a range of applications including industrial automation, healthcare, and the smart home — the ALMA-B1 and NORA-B2 modules are driven by Nordic's nRF45H20 and nRF45L15 respectively, with the former targeting performance while the latter delivers higher power efficiency for battery-powered long-life workloads like asset tracking systems.

The nRF54H20-powered ALMA-B1 delivers two Arm Cortex-M33 microcontroller processors running at up to 320MHz alongside a pair of low-power coprocessors based on the free and open-source RISC-V architecture, 1MB of RAM and 2MB of non-volatile memory, and peripherals including USB 2.0 High-Speed, CAN FD, I3C, and a 14-bit analog to digital converter (ADC). The nRF54H20 offers only a single Cortex-M33 running at up to 128MHz, 256kB of RAM and 1.5MB of non-volatile memory, and a "software-defined peripheral" linked to an on-board RISC-V core.

Both modules, the company claims, deliver the performance required for edge computing and on-device tiny machine learning (tinyML) workloads — yet deliver impressive efficiency gains on the company's previous-generation equivalents, with the NORA-B2 singled out as offering a 50 per cent reduction in current draw.

"We are thrilled to see Nordic’s latest generation of chipsets, the nRF54 series, being integrated into these u-blox modules," says Nordic's Thomas Holmberg of the announcement. "Their full potential will undoubtedly open up a wealth of revolutionary IoT end products that were previously unfeasible. ALMA-B1's superior power efficiency in radio and MCU processing and NORA-B2's ultra-low power for the mass market are clear market differentiators."

u-blox has confirmed plans to begin sampling the ALMA-B1 and NORA-B2 with a choice of PCB antenna or external antenna connection in the third quarter of the year; pricing and general availability have not yet been disclosed. More information is available on the ALMA-B1 and NORA-B2 product pages,

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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