Nordic Semiconductor has announced the first wireless SoC in the nRF54 line - the nRF54H20. The chip is a part of the fourth-generation nRF54 family and the first manufactured with a 22nm process. It features several Arm Cortex-M33 and RISC-V cores and supports Bluetooth 5.4 with features such as LE Audio, Bluetooth mesh, and Thread and Matter. It offers double the processing power of the nRF5340 SoC and comes with 2MB flash and 1MB SRAM; both included in the SoC.
We talk about the announcement in this week's Electromaker YouTube show [Timed Embedded Link]
The nRF54H20: In Specifications
The nRF54H20 offers several features, including an Arm Cortex-M33 application core, an Arm Cortex-M33 network core, multiple RISC-V cores, Bluetooth 5.4 LE, 802.15.4 radio for Thread and Matter, high-speed USB, a CAN FD controller, 2x I3C, 14-bit ADC, and cryptographic accelerators. It is designed to meet PSA Certified Level 3 IoT security standards and comes with features such as Secure Boot, Secure Firmware Update, and Secure Storage.
It looks like the nRF54H20 will be suitable for advanced IoT applications, wearables, smart home, medical, and LE Audio applications. It offers extra processing power, making it ideal for applications that require complex machine learning and support for sensor fusion at the edge. The lower RX power consumption compared to nRF5340 allows for more compact batteries or extended battery life for products like earbuds and wearables.
It's worth noting that in terms of pure power, the nRF54H20 doubles the capacity of the current nRF5340 Nordic flagship SoC - and that chip is no slouch!
A New Generation of Nordic SoCs
The new product, and its accompanying press release, are impressive. While I'll be the first to admit that some of the highly technical details are above me as a self-taught hobbyist, there were some parts that jumped out to me.
For example, the idea of having multiple cores set up for different tasks is interesting. You could set your main Cortex-M33 cores for crunching some intensive, power-hungry AI tasks, but leave them dormant until needed. Presumably, the "multiple RISC V cores" will be highly configurable, allowing them to run with an incredibly low power overhead, just waiting for a trigger to wake up the main system to process incoming data. This idea is far from new, of course, but it promises to make the already super low-power operation that Nordic is known for even more flexible.
Another aspect that went somewhat over my head was the increases in range and resolution. The onboard radio boasts some improvements:
An all-new, class-leading multiprotocol 2.4 GHz radio ensures the nRF54H20 SoC is the first in the world 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.
According to Nordic, these changes shouldn't just improve the range but extend battery life in devices that rely mostly on receiving data, like headphones and other LE Audio use cases.
Nordic Semi says that the nRF54H20 SoC is now available for sampling to selected customers, and interested parties should contact their local Nordic sales representatives for more information. Although there are no detailed specifications for the chip yet, the product page should be updated with further details over time.