Silicon Labs Announces New Bluetooth SoC and MCU for Small Form-Factor IoT Devices

By Tiera Oliver

Associate Editor

Embedded Computing Design

April 10, 2023


Silicon Labs Announces New Bluetooth SoC and MCU for Small Form-Factor IoT Devices

AUSTIN, TX – Silicon Labs announced two new integrated circuit families built around the ARM Cortex M33 processor and designed for small form factor IoT devices: the xG27 family of Bluetooth systems on chips (SoCs) and the BB50 microcontroller unit (MCU).

The xG27 and BB50 families are offered in sizes ranging from 2 mm-squared, about the width of a #2 pencil lead, to 5 mm-squared, less than the width of a standard #2 pencil, and are designed for small, battery-optimized IoT devices like connected medical devices, wearables, asset monitoring tags, smart sensors, simple consumer electronics like toothbrushes and toys, and more.

The new xG27 family of SoCs comprises the BG27, for Bluetooth connectivity, and the MG27, supporting Zigbee, and other proprietary protocols. The BG27 and MG27 share common features designed to make them the suitable SoC for small form-factor devices, including:

  • Wafer-level Chip Scale Packaging as small as 2.3 mm x 2.6 mm, ideal for compact and unobtrusive devices like medical patches, continuous glucose monitors, wearable electrocardiograms, and asset tags in various settings like retail and agriculture.
  • Integrated DCDC Boost that can allow the devices to operate on batteries as low as 0.8 V, thereby reducing their devices' size, form factor, and cost.
  • Integrated Coulomb Counter that enables battery level monitoring to avoid battery depletion during the use of applications, improving user experience and product safety. 
  • Advanced security with Silicon Labs Secure Vault with Virtual Security Engine (VSE) for secure boot and debug hardened against glitch attacks, tamper protection, and additional features designed to protect the device and its users’ data from local and remote cyber threats.
  • Shelf Mode that reduces energy use to less than 20 nano amperes so that devices can be transported and stocked on shelves while maintaining nearly full battery life for the end-user.  

Lura Health, a medical device manufacturer and participant in the Alpha program for BG27, has selected the new SoC as the basis of its new in-development smart wearable. The new Lura Health monitor goes in a person’s mouth, as the device is so small that it is glued to a tooth. With the device, dentists and other clinicians can collect important data from saliva, which is used to test for over 1,000 health conditions.

“The BG27 is amazing because it’s small enough that we can develop an IoT sensor smaller than a tooth, the power consumption is low enough to remove battery life as a product constraint, it has enough memory to store a sophisticated firmware application, it allows us to perform the data analysis required to gain insightful information from what we are monitoring, and it has all the peripherals we need to interface with our sensors,” said Noah Hill, co-Founder and CTO of Lura Health. “We spent hundreds of hours searching for a microcontroller that meets our needs, and the BG27 is the only solution that checks every box.”

The new BB50 MCU and the larger BB5x MCU family provide the following:

  • Common tools and software for 8-bit and 32-bit, like Silicon Labs Simplicity Studio and a fully-featured 8-bit compiler.
  • A high-performance core optimized for a large number of single-cycle instructions to improve operating efficiency.
  • Wide operating voltages and low-power modes for battery applications to improve energy efficiency for a large variety of battery sizes.
  • Various packaging options ranging from 2 mm-squared to 5 mm-squared to optimize for size needs.
  • Hundreds of firmware examples allow customers to easily add functionality to an existing product with little or no additional firmware development effort.

For more information, visit the BB50 and BB5x MCU family product pages.

Tiera Oliver, Associate Editor for Embedded Computing Design, is responsible for web content edits, product news, and constructing stories. She also assists with newsletter updates as well as contributing and editing content for ECD podcasts and the ECD YouTube channel. Before working at ECD, Tiera graduated from Northern Arizona University where she received her B.S. in journalism and political science and worked as a news reporter for the university’s student led newspaper, The Lumberjack.

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