Nordic, Silicon Labs Refresh Wireless SoCs

Nordic Semiconductor and Silicon Labs have updated their wireless multiprotocol SoCs for home and factory systems. Nordic improves the processing and radio, while Silicon Labs fills a package-size gap in its lineup.
Bryon Moyer
Bryon Moyer

New multiprotocol SoCs from Nordic Semiconductor and Silicon Labs (SiLabs) reduce energy consumption and improve radio performance in small packages. Intended largely for home and industrial systems, they support Bluetooth, Zigbee, Thread, and other protocols; the Nordic part also covers Matter.

Nordic’s nRF54H20 (H20) accelerates the computing subsystem while increasing both transmit power and receive sensitivity. The EFR32MG27 (MG27), part of SiLabs’ Gecko family, is a new addition sized primarily for Zigbee. Both chips implement the newly released Bluetooth 5.4 standard. Nordic is sampling the H20 now but withheld a full production date; SiLabs plans to start production in 2Q23.

The systems these devices target often rely on battery power; lower energy consumption is thus critical to extending battery life. At the same time, chip designers try to extend the communication range while staying within power limits, motivating increased transmit power to send the signal farther and increased receive sensitivity to capture a weaker signal.

Some wireless chips operate beside microcontrollers or other main processors that act as a host; others have sufficient CPU power and memory to run applications, removing the need for a separate host. Nordic’s device explicitly includes such a CPU; the SiLabs chip doesn’t.

Both companies have broad experience with single- and multiprotocol SoCs and modules. Their latest offerings follow the typical pattern of including models for specific tasks, improving radios, adding interfaces and processing capabilities, and reducing package size.

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