How will the combination of Bluetooth and Wibree influence RF design?
This week, there was a lot of talk about the combination of Wibree with Bluetooth , to form new Bluetooth ULP (ultra low power) devices. Initially, it looks like there will now be three general types of Bluetooth devices: standard Bluetooth, Bluetooth ULP, and a dual-mode version. It seems to me that any move away from a proprietary or one-vendor driven standard is a good move for the industry. So, moving Wibree under the Bluetooth SIG umbrella is probably a wise one.
For RF designers, the issues of note are that the RF link will remain at 2.4 GHz. Whereas Bluetooth is based on a FHSS modulation technique that hops at a very fast rate (1600 hops per second), the ULP version of Bluetooth will use Gaussian minimum shift keying (GMSK).
Even though the spec will not be finalized until early next year, market predictions are already flowing generously. IMS Research (Wellingborough, England), for instance, expects to see shipments of Bluetooth-Wibree dual-mode ICs exceed 120 million units in 2011.
Bluetooth ULP chips should be sampling later this year, and volume production is anticipated for early 2008.
Proponents of Wibree maintain that because it uses a star topology, it is not competitive with Zigbee, which is generally conceived of as a mesh configuration. So far, Zigbee proponents have been quiet about this. I'll be curious to hear how they react and to see how the market forces play on this latest combination of standards.