LONDON Just over 2.5 billion Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) chipsets will ship in 2014 in a market that will grow at 78 percent CAGR between 2009 and 2014; but less than a third of those shipments will be for the single mode ICs, according to market research group ABI.
The forecast comes as the low energy Bluetooth community gathers in Munich, Germany for its first international technology conference at which, for instance Texas Instruments will showcase an ultra low-power coin cell demo using the upcoming low energy open standard.
Earlier this year, at a Developers Preview meeting in Tokyo, chip makers including TI, Nordic Semiconductor, CSR and Broadcom made a series of announcements about new devices and development systems to support the forthcoming Bluetooth low energy standard.
ABI suggests the BLE market will develop in two very separate stages, mirroring the two different technology implementations: dual mode and single mode ICs. The researchers expect the two modes of IC will also be produced by two different groups of vendors, with each dependant on the investment and commitment of the other.
Next year, single mode ICs are predicted to account for less than 3 percent of BLE chipset shipments.
"BLE will enter the market in two stages," says principal analyst Jonathan Collins. "First with support for BLE embedded in mobile handsets, and then a second stage when BLE devices come to market. Key is that both dual mode and single mode suppliers are confident that each will deliver and support BLE."
BLE will enable sensors and monitors to communicate with mobile handsets and other BLE-enabled devices using very low power communications. While existing low power short range applications such as sports and fitness equipment will be the first devices to market, there is further potential for more serious BLE health monitoring applications.
Single-mode devices will be expected to run for many months or even years on standard coin-cell batteries. Dual-mode chips are targeted at handsets, multimedia computers and PCs and feature power consumptions of around 75 to 80 percent of conventional Bluetooth chips when operating in Bluetooth low energy wireless technology mode and cost just tens of cents more.
TI 's coin cell demo
Texas Instruments' ultra low-power coin cell demo will focus on the company's upcoming CC2540 single-mode SoC. Among other examples, it would allow for a small button cell battery to power such a device without recharging for more than a year.
A prototype carries flash-based firmware that can be updated in the field, while data can also be stored on the chip.
The SoC is expected to be sampling early next year.
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