17 Most Popular Bluetooth Low Energy Chipsets Compared

According to Pareto’s 80/20 rule, roughly 80% of the results come from 20% of the efforts. There are probably over a hundred of BLE System-on-Chips (SoCs) in the market, but most come from only a handful of manufacturers. So, who are the top players in the BLE chipset industry?

The most popular Bluetooth LE SoCs are :

1. Nordic Semiconductor (nRF52840, nRF52832, nRF51822, nRF52811, nRF52810, nRF52833, nRF5340, nRF52805)

2. Dialog Semiconductor ( DA14683, DA14585)

3. Texas Instruments ( TI CC2541,TI CC2540)

4. STMicroelectronics ( BlueNRG-2N)

5. Silabs (EFR32BG13, EFR32BG22)

6. NXP Semiconductors (QN908x)

7. Qualcomm (CSR102x)

We found this list of Bluetooth LE SoCs by doing a Google search using the Surfer Keyword Tool. We looked for the SoCs that were being searched for the most in 2022. We assume that the more often an SoC is being searched for, the more popular it must be.

We bet you’ve skimmed through the list and been disappointed to see that it doesn’t contain some of the most recent SoCs. Though newer chipsets have better features that their predecessors, popularity is a slow acclivity. It takes time to percolate through the market.

Enough with the long intro, let’s move on to what a System on Chip (SoC) is, shall we?

What is an SoC?

It is an integrated circuit (IC) that combines all the components of a computer or other electronic system into a single chip. It’s called a system on chip because it includes everything from the central processing unit (CPU) to peripherals, memory, and input/output (I/O) ports into a single die. In short, it is a complete system on a single chip.

The main benefits of using an SoC over traditional discrete components are increased reliability, smaller form factor, and lower power consumption.

Now that we know what an SoC is, let’s discuss the most popular BLE SoCs on the market.

Disclaimer: Prices shown are based on single quantities, and volume pricing may vary across the different chipsets listed.

1. Nordic Semiconductor – nRF52840

The nRF52840 is the most advanced chip in the nRF52 series. It has 1 MB of flash memory and 256 KB of RAM. It also supports full-speed 12 Mbps USB, making it a versatile choice for a wide range of applications.

Plus, it’s fully multiprotocol, supporting Bluetooth LE, Bluetooth mesh, Thread, Zigbee, ANT+, NFC, and 802.15.4. However, it does not support Bluetooth LE audio and Bluetooth direction-finding features.

The nRF52840 has a core ARM-M4 processor that can do complex calculations quickly. This is useful for tasks like digital signal processing or math that requires floating-point numbers. Ideal applications of the nRF52840 include:

  • Gaming controllers
  • Virtual/ Augmented reality applications
  • Advanced wearables
  • Smart city infrastructure
  • Matter connected home products

2. Nordic Semiconductor – nRF52832

The Nordic Semiconductor nRF52832 is a powerful, general-purpose 32-pin GPIO SoC. It is considered a subset of the nRF52810 and nRF52805 SoCs and therefore packs a considerable punch.

The nRF52840 is similar to the nRF52832. They both have an Arm Cortex-M4 with FPU. This allows them to do complex tasks. The nRF52832 also supports Bluetooth LE, Bluetooth Mesh, NFC, ANT, and 2.4 GHz proprietary protocols. However, it does not support ZigBee, Thread, or Matter protocols along with Bluetooth LE audio and Bluetooth direction-finding features.

The nRF52832 has less memory support than the nRF52840. The nRF52832 supports 512/256 KB Flash and 64/32 KB RAM. Despite this, the nRF52832 is still a powerful chipset that can be used for a variety of purposes, including:

  • Beacons
  • PC peripherals such as wireless keyboards and mice
  • Advanced wearables
  • Sensor Networks
  • Toys

3. Nordic Semiconductor – nRF51822

The Nordic Semiconductor nRF51822 is a low-cost Bluetooth chip that can be used for many purposes. It has a 32-bit ARM Cortex M0 processor and 31 configurable GPIO pins.

Even though the nRF51822 has less program memory and RAM than other SoCs, it can still support Bluetooth LE and Bluetooth Mesh.  The nRF51822 is used in a variety of applications, including:

  • Proximity sensors
  • Sports and fitness trackers
  • Hearing aids
  • Remote controls
  • Toys

4.  Nordic Semiconductor – nRF52811

The Nordic Semiconductor nRF52811 is the fourth member of the nRF52 Series and is packed with features, including Bluetooth long-range, and protocol support (for 802.15.4, Thread, ZigBee). It also has a  direction-finding feature and it has better Rx sensitivity than other chips in the nRF52 series.

Direction-finding enables positioning solutions to rely not just on the received signal strength indicator (RSSI) but also on the direction of a signal. Direction-finding is based on the principle of triangulation, whereby the position of a point can be determined based on the angles between three other points.

In the case of BLE, the three points are typically the transmitting device, the receiving device, and a reference device. By measuring the angles between these three points, it is possible to calculate the position of the transmitting device with a high degree of accuracy.

With the direction-finding feature, the nRF52811 is ideal for use in applications like:

  • Asset tracking
  • Indoor navigation
  • A transmitter in both AoA( Angle of Arrival) and AoD (Angle of Departure) mode
  • Real-time locating systems
  • Beacons

5. Nordic Semiconductor -nRF52810

It is one of the tiniest SoCs available, along with the nRF52811 and nRF52805. It is a flash-based SOC like all members of the nRF52 series and as such supports over-the-air firmware upgrades (OTA DFU). This allows for software updates on the field.

Let me remind you what “flash-based SoC” means:  A flash-based SoC is one in which the program code is stored in flash memory. Flash memory is a type of non-volatile memory that can be erased and rewritten. This is opposed to a mask ROM-based SOC, in which the program code is hardwired into the chip during manufacture and cannot be changed thereafter.

The main advantage of a flash-based SOC is that it allows for data logging and updates to the program code after the chip has been manufactured. This is especially important in the case of BLE chips, as the Bluetooth SIG regularly updates the specification to add new features and fix bugs.

The nRF52810 is used in a variety of applications including:

  • Beacons
  • Fitness sensors
  • Logistics and tagging
  • Disposable medical sensors
  • Toys

6. Nordic Semiconductor -nRF52833

The nRF52833’s most appealing feature is its Bluetooth radio direction finding ability, which is certified to work at temperatures as low as -40 °C and up to 105 °C. So, if your application requires operation at either end of the temperature range, this will be able to do so.

The possible applications of the nRF52833 include:

  • Professional lighting
  • Industrial
  • Advanced wearables
  • Gaming
  • Smart home
  • Asset tracking and RTLS

7. Nordic Semiconductor -nRF5340

The nRF5340 is the world’s first wireless chip with two Arm® Cortex®-M33 processors. One processor is used to manage networks and the other processor is used to run applications. This chipset has features like USB, Bluetooth 5.3, up to 105 °C operating temperature, and 1 MB Flash + 512 KB RAM.

It also has an 8 KB 2-way set associative cache which is used to speed up data access in the SoC. It’s like having a personal data center that stores recently accessed data only without any servers.

How does it work? When data is accessed by the application processor, it is first checked in the cache. If it’s available, the data is transferred to the application processor from the cache at high speed. If the data is not available in the cache, it is fetched from main memory and stored in the cache for future access.

The nRF5340 ca be used in a wide variety of applications including:

  • LE Audio
  • Professional lighting
  • Industrial
  • Medical
  • Asset tracking

8. Nordic Semiconductor – nRF52805

The nRF52805 is a really small chip, only 2.48 x 2.46 mm WLCSP ( Wafer level Chip Scale Package). 

Typically, small SoC designs require a four-layer PCB, but the nRF52805 is built with only two PCB layers. This is ideal for cost-constrained applications since the more layers, the more expensive it gets.

The nRF52805 is used in applications like:

  • Styluses
  • Presenters
  • Disposable medical sensors
  • Beacons

Which Nordic SoC is Right for You? A Comprehensive Table Guide

1. Supported Bluetooth Features

nRF52840nRF52832nRF52822nRF52811nRF52810nRF52833nRF5340nRF52805
Bluetooth 4.0XXXXXXXX
Bluetooth 5.3XXXXXXX
Bluetooth 2 MbpsXXXXXXX
Bluetooth Long RangeXXXX
Bluetooth Direction  FindingXXX
Bluetooth LE AudioX
Bluetooth MeshXXXX
ThreadXXXX
ZigBeeXXXX
MatterXX

2. Hardware Key Features

SoCCoreMemoryProtocol SupportedSecurityRx SensitivitySizeCost
1.nRF5284064 MHz Arm® Cortex-M4 with FPU1 MB Flash + 256 KB RAMBluetooth 5.3/Bluetooth mesh/Thread/NFC/Zigbee/802.15.4/ANT128 bit AES/ECB/CCM/AAR co-processor, Arm CryptoCell CC310-103 dBm at 125 kbps -95 dBm at 1 Mbps7 x 7 aQFN73 with 48 GPIOs;6 x 6 QFN48 with 30 GPIOs;3.5 x 3.6 WLCSP94 with 48 GPIOs$7.42
2.nRF5283264 MHz Arm® Cortex-M4 with FPU512/256 KB Flash + 64/32 KB RAMBluetooth 5.3/Bluetooth mesh/802.15.4/ANT/2.4 GHz proprietary protocols128 bit AES/ECB/CCM/AAR accelerator ;Arm TrustZone, Arm CryptoCell-312, SPU, KMU, ACL-96 dBm at 1 Mbps -89 dBm at 2 Mbps6×6 mm aQFN48 with 32 GPIOs;3.0×3.2 mm WLCSP50 with 32 GPIOs$4.80
3. nRF5182232-bit ARM Cortex M0 processor256/128 kB  Flash + 32/16 KB RAMBluetooth 4.0/2.4 GHz proprietary protocols128-bit AES ECB/CCM/AAR hardware security
-96dBm at 250kb -90dBm at 1Mbs -85dBm at 2Mbs48-pin 6×6 QFN/WLCSP, Thin-CSP
$0.76
4. nRF5281164 MHz 32-bit Arm Cortex-M4192 KB Flash + 24 KB RAMBluetooth 5.3/802.15.4/ANT/ZigBee/2.4 GHz proprietary128-bit AES CCM, ECB, AAR hardware security-104 dBm at 125 kbps-100 dBM at 500 kbps -96 dBm at 1 Mbps -94 dBm at 2 Mbps6 x 6 QFN48 with 32 GPIO;5 x 5 QFN32 with 17 GPIO;2.48 x 2.46 WLCSP33 with 15 GPIO$4.40
5. nRF5281064 MHz 32-bit Arm Cortex-M4192 KB Flash + 24 KB RAMBluetooth 5/ANT/ 2.4 GHz proprietary128-bit AES CCM, ECB, AAR hardware security-93 dBm at 2 Mbps ;-96 dBm at 1 Mbps6 x 6 QFN48 with 32 GPIOs; 5 x 5 QFN32 with 16 GPIOs;2.48 x 2.46 WLCSP33 with 15 GPIOs$3.85
6. nRF5283364 MHz Arm® Cortex-M4 with FPU512 KB Flash + 128 KB RAM; 8 KB cacheBluetooth 5.3/Bluetooth mesh/NFC/Thread/Zigbee/802.15.4/ANT/2.4 GHz proprietary128 bit AES/ECB/CCM/AAR accelerator-103 dBm at 1 Mbps; -93 dBm at 1 Mbps ;-89 dBm at 2 Mbps7×7 mm aQFN™73 with 42 GPIOs;5×5 mm QFN40 with 18 GPIOs ; 3.2x3x2 mm WLCSP95 with 42 GPIOs$7.24
7. nRF5340128/64 MHz Arm Cortex-M33 (Application Core);64 MHz Arm Cortex-M33 (Network Core)1 MB Flash + 512 KB RAM 8 KB 2-way set associative cache (Application Core);256 KB Flash + 64 KB RAM 2 KB instruction cache  (Network Core)Bluetooth Low Energy/Bluetooth mesh/ NFC/Thread/Zigbee/Matter/802.15.4/ANT/2.4 GHz proprietaryTrusted execution, root-of-trust, secure key storage, 128-bit AES ; Arm TrustZone, Arm CryptoCell-312, SPU, KMU, ACL-98 dBm at 1 Mbps -95 dBm at 2 Mbps7×7 mm aQFN™94 with 48 GPIOs;4.4×4.0 mm WLCSP95 with 48 GPIOs$ 9.42
8. nRF5280564 MHz Arm Cortex-M4192 KB Flash + 24 KB RAMBluetooth 5.3/ANT/ 2.4 GHz proprietary128-bit AES-97 dBm at 1 Mbps2.48×2.46 mm WLCSP28 with 10 GPIOs$2.92

9. Dialog Semiconductor – DA14683

The DA14683 is a flexible System-on-Chip based on an ARM® Cortex®-M0 CPU running at 96MHz.

It is mostly marked for its enhanced security features such as secure booting. Secure booting is a process of authenticating a system’s firmware and bootloader before execution. This ensures that only authorized software can run on the system, preventing malicious code from running.

Secure booting is especially important in embedded systems, which are often used in industry critical applications where security is paramount. Other applications that frequently use the DA14683 include:

  • Virtual reality remotes
  • Human Interface devices
  • Wearables

10. Dialog Semiconductor – DA14585

The DA14585 is a low-power System-on-Chip based on an ARM® Cortex®-M0 CPU running at 16MHz. It also has an extra dedicated AES-128 bit encryption processor and a link layer processor as well.

This chip supports all Bluetooth developments up to Bluetooth 5. It has 96kB of RAM and 64kB of One-Time Programmable (OTP) memory. It also offers a very fast boot time (<50ms) and can support up to 8 BLE connections.

This processor can be used by itself  as a standalone application processor or as a data pump part of a larger system. Other applications that frequently use the DA14585 include:

  • Beacons
  • Voice-controlled remote controls
  • Smoke alarms
  • Human Interface devices

11. Texas Instrument – TI CC2541

The Texas Instrument CC2541, is a power-optimized system-on-chip (SoC) solution for both Bluetooth low energy and proprietary 2.4-GHz applications.

The CC2541 is built around an 8051 MCU, along with 128/256 KB flash memory and 8-KB RAM. Security features include cryptographic acceleration, debug security, device identity, and software IP protection.

With its low power consumption and small form factor, the CC2541 is ideal for a wide range of wireless applications including :

  • Human-Interface Devices (Keyboard, Mouse, Remote Control)
  • Mobile phone accessories
  • Sports and fitness sensors

12. Texas Instrument – TI CC2540

The Texas Instruments CC2540 is a cost-effective, low-power, system-on-chip (SoC) solution for Bluetooth low energy applications. It is built around an 8051 MCU, 128 / 256 KB in-system programmable flash memory, and 8KB SRAM.

The main disadvantage of this chipset is that it is a legacy BLE chipset, meaning it does not support LE Secure Connections. This can be a problem for applications that require the highest levels of security that can be provided for in Elliptical Curve Diffie-Hellman (ECDH) key exchange used in LE Secure Connections.

Despite this setback, the CC2540 is still widely used in a variety of applications, such as:

  • BLE wireless mouses and keyboards
  • Remote controls
  • USB Dongles

13. STMicroelectronics ( BlueNRG-2N)

The BlueNRG-2N is a Bluetooth LE SoC that meets the Bluetooth v5.2 specification. It has a 32-bit Arm Cortex-M0 core and 245 kB of Flash memory. OTA (Over the Air) firmware updates are possible due to the presence of Flash memory.

The BlueNRG-2N chipset also has a 24 kB RAM. This RAM is volatile, which means it loses its contents when the power is turned off. However, the BlueNRG-2N’s RAM retention feature allows two 12 kB banks of RAM to keep their content even when power is turned off.

Popular applications of this chipset include:

  • Smart Watches
  • Proximity tags
  • PC peripherals
  • Remote Controller

14. SiLabs – EFR32BG13

The EFR32BG13 is a powerful and versatile Bluetooth LE SoC that supports all optional Bluetooth 5 features, including long-range and 2M PHYs. It also includes the option to add multiprotocol sub-GHz and 2.4 GHz support, making it ideal for proprietary protocols, wireless M-BUS, and Low Power Wide Area Network applications.

Based on a 32-bit ARM® Cortex®-M4 core, the EFR32BG13 offers up to 512 kB of programmable Flash memory and 64 kB SRAM, making it a great choice for

  • Human Interface Devices,
  • Commercial and Retail Lighting and Sensing,
  • Metering applications.

15. SiLabs – EFR32BG22

The EFR32BG22 is a Bluetooth SoC equipped with an advanced 32-bit ARM Cortex-M33 CPU running at 76.8 MHz. It supports fast communication and is suited for applications that require direction finding, mesh networking, and Bluetooth 5.3 compatibility.

This SoC has up to 512 KB of flash and 32 KB of RAM, which is enough for complex applications. Target applications for this SOc can be:

  • Asset Tags and Beacons 
  • Indoor navigation
  • Smart door locks
  • Bluetooth mesh low-power nodes

16. NXP Semiconductors – QN908x

The QN908x SoC is a BLE chipset that includes a 32-bit Arm Cortex-M4F running at 32 MHz, 512KB of flash memory, 128 KB of SRAM, and 256 KB of ROM.

This SoC can be used in applications such as:

  • Retail Beacons
  • Human Interface Devices (HID)
  • Asset Tracking
  • Remote Controls

17. Qualcomm -CSR1020

The Qualcomm CSR1020 SoC is a low-power, high-performance System-on-Chip that can support Bluetooth v5.0, Bluetooth mesh, and CSR Mesh applications. It incorporates a 16-bit RISC core running on a maximum speed of 16 MHz.

In terms of memory, it has an internal mask ROM of 192 KB, internal data RAM of 16 KB, Code RAM of 64 KB, OTP of 60 KB, and MTP of 256 KB. It does not support on-chip flash memory but can be interfaced with an external SPI flash memory of up to 16 MB.

The device is ideal for applications such as:

  • Human Interface Devices (HID)
  • Sports and fitness sensors
  • Camera controls
  • Proximity tags

Which BLE SoC is Right for You? A Comprehensive Table Guide

   

SoCCoreMemoryProtocol SupportedSecurityRx SensitivitySizeCost
9. DA1468394 MHz Arm® Cortex-M0 128 MB ROM + 128 KB RAM + 16KB CacheBluetooth 5/Bluetooth meshApplication cryptographic engine with ECC, AES256, SHA-1, SHA-256, SHA-512, and True RandomNumber Generator-94 dBmAQFN with 60 pins, 6 mm x 6 mm;WLCSP with 53 balls, 3.406 mm x 3.010 mm
$2.03
10. DA1458516 MHz 32-bit ARM Cortex-M0128 KB ROM +64 KB OTP + 96 KB RAMBluetooth 5.0AES-128-93 dBmWLCSP 34 pins, 2.40 mm x 2.66 mm;QFN 40 pins, 5 mm x 5 mm;QFN 48 pins, 6 mm x 6 mm
$3.74
11. TI CC25418-bit 8051128/ 256 KB Flash + 8 KB RAMBluetooth v4.0 /2.4 GHz proprietaryAES-128-94 dBm6-mm × 6-mm QFN-40 Package$6.95
12. TI CC25408-bit 8051128/ 256 KB Flash + 8 KB RAMBluetooth v4.0AES-128-93 dBm6-mm × 6-mm QFN-40 Package$4.27
13. BlueNRG-2N32-bit ARM Cortex-M0256 KB Flash + 24 KB RAMBluetooth 5.2AES-128, RNG-96 dBmQFN32, QFN48, and WCSP34 package options$ 4.29
14. EFR32BG1340 MHz32-bit ARM Cortex-M4F with FPU512 KB Flash + 64 KB RAMBluetooth 5.0/Sub-2.4 GHz proprietary protocols/ Wireless M-Bus/ Selected IEEE 802.15.4g SUN-FSK PHYs
Autonomous Hardware Crypto Accelerator and True Random Number Generator-94.8 dBmQFN32 5×5 mm Package; QFN48 7×7 mm Package$ 7.10
15. EFR32BG2276.8 MHz ARM Cortex-M33 with FPU 512 KB Flash + 32 KB RAMBluetooth 5.2 Hardware Crypto Accelerator and True Random Number Generator, Secure Boot with Root of Trust and Secure Loader (RTSL)-98.9 dBm QFN40 5 mm × 5 mm × 0.85 mmQFN32 4 mm × 4 mm × 0.85 mmTQFN32 4 mm × 4 mm × 0.30 mm$ 4.46
16. QN908x32 MHz32-bit ARM Cortex-M4F with FPU512 KB Flash + 128 KB RAMBluetooth 5.0128-AES, TRNG-95 /- 93 dBm6 x 6 mm HVQFN48 ;3.28 x 3.20 mm WLCSP packages$9.47
17. CSR102016‑bit RISC MCU192 KB ROM + 80 KB RAM +60 KB OTP +16 MB External SPI Flash
Bluetooth v4.2128-AES-87 dBm36-lead 5 x 5 x 0.65 mm 0.5 mm pitch QFN

Conclusion

There are many different BLE chipsets on the market today that offer a variety of features and capabilities. When choosing a BLE chipset for your application, it is important to consider the specific needs of your project to select the best possible solution.

In this article, we have compared 17 of the most common Bluetooth Low Energy SoCs.

There are recent releases like nRF5340 from Nordic, BlueNRG-LP from  STMicroelectronics, the CC2652R7 from Texas Instruments, DA1469x family from Dialog Semiconductor, EFR32BG24 from Silicon Labs, and TLSR 921x from Telink. These newer chipsets offer improved performance, lower power consumption, and more features than their predecessors and they are definitely on the path to becoming the most popular Bluetooth LE SoCs in the market.

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