nRF9160 development status

Updated September 6th 2019.

This blog gives a snapshot of the development status of nRF9160 features and performance.

Development

The nRF9160 hardware and development kits are now in production and is suitable for full end-to-end sensor to cloud development and deployment.

Firmware images are posted on the product page. Step-by-step upgrade instructions can be found here.

There are three variants of the nRF9160 supporting different radio technologies. Samples are available of nRF9160-SICA and you can buy devices for engineering builds from your distributor. 

Hardware

Supported features

nRF9160-SICA

LTE-M/NB-IoT/GPS

nRF9160-SIAA

LTE-M

nRF9160-SIBA

NB-IoT

Modem Firmware

The latest modem firmware supporting LTE-M, NB-IoT and GPS in PSM mode is available on the product page. Version 1.0.1 is the current version and 1.0.1 can be used for certification at Verizon. It also contains an important bug fix that prevents modem file system from damage during update if the device is reset in the process. 


Certifications

Certification status and roadmap is kept up-to-date on nordicsemi.com/9160cert

Coverage

GSMA keeps a good list of currently available LTE-M and NB-IoT networks globally here:

https://www.gsma.com/iot/mobile-iot-commercial-launches/

Most of them have also made it into a nice map here:

https://www.gsma.com/iot/deployment-map/

Application SDK

You can find the application SDK samples here:

https://github.com/NordicPlayground/fw-nrfconnect-nrf/tree/master/samples/nrf9160

There is also a more complete asset tracker application example here:

https://github.com/NordicPlayground/fw-nrfconnect-nrf/tree/master/applications/asset_tracker

Notable components tested and included: MQTT, CoAP, HTTP, Application FOTA, secure BSD sockets, peripheral and DK board drivers

Currently under development: LWM2M, Modem FOTA, Modem serial DFU

Tracing

The modem can be traced through the application processor. The easiest way to get the traces out is through UART. The nRF Connect for Desktop has an app for that. Instructions on how to enable it can be found here.

Development Kit and Reference Design

The nRF9160 DK serves as a software development platform, field testing tool and reference design. It is the vehicle for all of our certification testing which makes it valuable as a reference design.

A guide to do HW integration of the nRF9160 on your own deisgn can be found here. It covers design aspects as well as considerations and methods to pass regulatory certifications.  

Unfortunately, in versions before 0.8.5, matching components for the on-board GPS antenna on the DK were not optimal and will give poor to no functionality of the GPS. Version 0.8.5 has some improvements, but is still not ideal. It is recommended to connect an external active GPS antenna to compensate. In order to use this, you will need:

  • Active external GPS antenna
  • Bias-Tee circuit
  • MXHS83QE3000 cable
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