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New U-blox Modules Support Simultaneous Positioning and Communications

February 08, 2024 by Aaron Carman

Designers can leverage the newest U-blox modules to simplify cellular and IoT design.

 U-blox has announced two new products in its LTE-M series of cellular modules to aid industrial IoT and cellular developers. These new members, SARA-R52 and LEXI-R52, bring positioning and wireless communication performance to industrial settings using U-blox’s custom cellular/IoT chipset.

 

LEXI-R52 and SARA-R52

U-blox’s newest modules, the LEXI-R52 and SARA-R52, both provide designers with improved connectivity and positioning performance in a commercial chip.
 

While continuous tracking applications often require dedicated hardware, occasional tracking or integrated tracking/communication use cellular connectivity to provide a rough estimate of a device's position. U-blox’s latest modules target concurrent positioning and communication applications.

 

Concurrent Position and Communication

The new U-blox modules support simultaneous positioning and communication, allowing designers to precisely target more applications with a single chip. Both chips leverage the UBX-R52 series of LTE chips to provide wireless connectivity. The flagship module, the SARA-R52, accomplishes this concurrent performance with an integrated GNSS receiver and U-blox's SpotNow technology for occasional tracking—yielding a 10 m accuracy.

The LEXI-R52, on the other hand, only leverages the SpotNow solution due to its smaller overall size compared to the SARA-R52 series (16 × 16 mm versus 16 × 26 mm). This allows designers to target a wider range of devices, from handheld, portable trackers to large industrial solutions.

U-blox upgraded both modules' transmit power, extending into the 23 dBm LTE power class and allowing longer-range connectivity.

 

Integrated Processing

In addition to its cellular features, the new U-blox modules make use of the peripherals included in the UBX-R52 series of LTE chips—primarily, the open CPU (uCPU) and Smart Connection Manager (uSCM) for embedded performance and an assortment of interfaces, including I2C, SPI, GPIO, and ADC. 

With the uCPU, designers can forego external microcontrollers to instead leverage the on-chip capabilities built into the R52 hardware. This solution not only saves space and cost by removing external components but also allows users to run custom software on the new modules.

 

SARA-R52 system architecture application building block

The SARA-R5 series block diagram highlights broad support for wireless positioning, communication protocols, and embedded development. 
 

The uSCM automatically manages connectivity, balancing performance or power consumption to meet specific design needs. If, for example, a connection is lost and must be reestablished, the uSCM can efficiently reconnect, allowing designers to focus development time elsewhere. 

 

A Broad Application Landscape

As wireless connectivity continues to grow, the SARA-R52 and LEXI-R52 series of LTE-M modules may be a useful embedded solution for both GNSS positioning and cellular connectivity. U-blox has targeted asset tracking, wireless metering, and size-constrained connected devices as applications that could benefit from the new modules. 

 


 

All images used courtesy of U-blox.