Nordic Reveals “Revolution” of Wireless SoC Line: The nRF54 Series

April 17, 2023 by Aaron Carman

Aiming to change the game of Bluetooth LE design, Nordic’s latest wireless SoC is said to offer unprecedented performance in a single chip.

With the goal of providing an all-in-one system-on-chip (SoC), Nordic Semiconductor has announced its new nRF54 series of low-power wireless SoCs. Highlighted in this series is its first member: the nRF54H20. The new SoC comes equipped with support for Bluetooth LE, Bluetooth mesh, Thread, Matter, and many more popular IoT protocols, putting it in a position to help designers miniaturize their designs and support new IoT applications.


The nRF54 series

The nRF54 series is the 4th generation of Nordic's wireless SoCs and comes equipped with so-called state-of-the-art specs for IoT applications. Image used courtesy of Nordic Semiconductor


Built on the 22FDX process from GlobalFoundries, the new Nordic SoC includes a high-performance, multi-processor architecture and RF front-end, ensuring that designers won’t have to sacrifice performance to achieve a small form factor.

To understand how the nRF54H20 may shake up the IoT industry, this article delves into the SoC's preliminary performance results reported by Nordic. In addition, we’ll examine the claim that the new chip is a “revolution” in wireless SoCs alongside its intended applications to see how the nRF54 series could enable continuous integration.


The Most Sensitive BLE Receiver?

The first member of the nRF54 series, the nRF54H20, is said to offer designers numerous advantages compared to existing wireless SoCs, both in the digital and RF domains. In terms of processing power, the nRF54H20 is equipped with multiple Arm Cortex-M33 and RISC-V processors with clock speeds up to 320 MHz, 2 MB of non-volatile memory, and 1 MB of RAM.



The nRF54H20 may give designers an all-in-one solution with desirable performance in a wide variety of environments. Image used courtesy of Nordic Semiconductor


As a wireless SoC, the nRF54H20 provides designers with long-range communication thanks to the 10 dBm transmit power. Nordic also claims the device is the first receiver in the world with a sensitivity of -100 dBm for BLE.



The 22FDX GlobalFoundries process leverages FD-SOI to provide excellent RF performance without sacrificing efficiency or power dissipation. Image used courtesy of GlobalFoundries


The nRF54H20 is fabricated using the GlobalFoundries 22FDX process, allowing Nordic to achieve the strict performance and power requirements dictated by the IoT industry. The 22FDX process leverages fully-depleted silicon-on-insulator (FD-SOI) technology to provide high RF performance without increasing the dissipated power, making it a promising candidate for future IoT applications.


Versatile IoT Performance

Designers that are familiar with common Nordic products like the nRF24 series are likely well-acquainted with how easy it can be to set up a wireless link to the ICs (the nRF24L01 is a common choice amongst beginner hobbyists). Nordic has continued this trend, providing designers with out-of-the-box support for popular IoT protocols such as Matter, Thread, BLE, and many more.


Global IoT market forecast

As the number of IoT devices continues to grow, power efficiency, performance, and size become critical to continue the momentum toward complete IoT integration. Image used courtesy of IoT Analytics


Furthermore, it is no longer necessary to surround your wireless SoC with supporting devices since the nRF54H20 contains multiple components in a single package. This allows designers to shrink designs and enable previously impractical applications. In addition, the nRF54H20’s security features are designed to protect edge devices from becoming weak points in networks. The reduced size and improved interoperability afforded by the nRF54H20 make it a powerful contender for future IoT applications, especially as the fragmented smart home becomes reunited by the Matter standard.


Kickstarting a "Revolution"

While Kjetil Holstad, Nordic's EVP product manager, proclaimed the new series to be a "revolution" of the company's wireless SoCs, existing chips in Nordic's portfolio still play a vital role in certain RF use cases. The new series may, however, open doors to new applications that were previously impractical with existing technology. Access to a single-chip solution will enable IoT integration in a slew of new devices thanks to the reduced size and improved performance of the nRF54 series.