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BLE Vs Dual mode Bluetooth

July 15th, 2015

BLE stands for Bluetooth Low energy, and, almost all the newer smart phones, tablets and notebooks come with Bluetooth Low Energy. The standard was finalized with Bluetooth 4.0 Specification way back in 2010 which laid the foundation for Bluetooth Low Energy. There has been another aspect of the 4.0 specification and that is the bluetooth operation in dual mode.

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The need of the dual mode arises because, we still have older Bluetooth devices that operate in classic Bluetooth mode. In order to support the older Bluetooths, the newer Bluetooth devices often support the dual mode. This way we have the best of both the worlds.

Earlier versions of Bluetooth viz., Bluetooth 2.0 and 3.0 focused upon increasing the data rate. The focus of the newer Bluetooth 4.0 was on reducing the power consumption making is more suitable for Battery Operated devices.

The Texas Instruments integrated bluetooth SoC CC26xx for example comes in two flavors - CC2640 and CC2650. The CC2640 supports only the Bluetooth Low Energy mode while the CC2650 is the corresponding dual mode SoC. The dual mode can be thought of as a superset of the C2650. The CC2640 improves upon the CC2540 by introducing faster and more energy efficient Cortex M3 processor in place of 8051 in CC2540.

Nordic Semiconductor's latest nRF52832 part has Cortex M4F running at 64 MHz with 512 KB Flash and 64 KB of RAM. It has support for SPI, I2C, UART, I2S, DMA. In terms of pure processing power, Flash and RAM it outsmarts TI and will be more suitable if you are looking for processor intensive tasks.

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