Tiny, Ultra Low-Power Combo MCU Suits Healthcare Apps

By Rich Nass

Executive Vice President

Embedded Computing Design

July 11, 2023


Tiny, Ultra Low-Power Combo MCU Suits Healthcare Apps

NXP’s NHS52Sx4 family of ultra-low-power MCUs is aimed squarely at battery powered, miniaturized wearable medical devices thanks to its high level of integration and versatile battery support.

Communications are handled through an integrated Bluetooth Low Energy 5.3 wireless transceiver which contains a dedicated embedded microcontroller and flash memory. The result is that all of the computations and computing are handled in one tiny low-power device, helping to extend the medical IoT product category. Because the cost-effective solution is wrapped into such a small form factor, it’s suited for body-worn sensors and actuator applications like smart skin patches, smart inhalers, and vital signs monitoring.

From a power-efficiency perspective, the MCU offers various low power modes, including a “shelf mode” that requires less than 100 nA and less than 12 mW to transmit and receive. On-chip memory includes 128 kbytes of RAM, 256 kbytes of ROM, and 1 Mbyte of non-volatile flash memory.

The NHS52Sx4 family supports a versatile range of battery types ranging from silver oxide and Li-ion coin cells to PMIC-based product architectures. Built with advanced security in mind, the NHS52Sx4 devices are part of NXP’s EdgeLock Assurance program, which assures compliance with all relevant standards and regulations. As a testament to that, NXP recently achieved IEC 62443-4-1 and ISO/SAE 21434 certifications, removing that burden for designers.

To help enable development, NXP is making documentation, software, and development boards available. For example, the available evaluation kit, the NHS52Sx4EVK, is intended for prototyping, demos, software development, and measurements (power consumption and RF). The kit supports direct operations from a single silver-oxide battery and constitutes multiple debugging mechanisms, thus simplifying application development.

Richard Nass’ key responsibilities include setting the direction for all aspects of OSM’s ECD portfolio, including digital, print, and live events. Previously, Nass was the Brand Director for Design News. Prior, he led the content team for UBM’s Medical Devices Group, and all custom properties and events. Nass has been in the engineering OEM industry for more than 30 years. In prior stints, he led the Content Team at EE Times, Embedded.com, and TechOnLine. Nass holds a BSEE degree from NJIT.

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