Small is good, especially when it comes to the IoT and applications such as tracking devices. So is multifunctional connectivity. In its ALEX-R5 dual chipset, u-blox has achieved both objectives. The miniature cellular module integrates low-power, wide-area (LPWA) connectivity and global navigation satellite system (GNSS) technology into an ultra-small system-in-package (SiP) form factor.
The ALEX-R5 module, which comprises hardware components designed fully in-house, is based on the secure UBX-R5 LTE-M / NB-IoT chipset platform with out-of-the-box Secure Cloud functionality and u-blox’s M8 GNSS chip for world-class location accuracy. With a 14x14-mm footprint, achieved through its system-in-package (SiP) design, the new module is half the size of u-blox’s earlier SARA-R5 while remaining functionally equivalent.
The module’s 23-dBm cellular transmission power ensures that end devices operate effectively in all signal conditions, even at cell edges, underground, or in other challenging scenarios. A dedicated GNSS antenna interface enables fully independent, simultaneous operation of the u-blox M8 GNSS chip, matching the performance of a stand-alone u-blox M8 module. The company’s IoT Location-as-a-Service with CellLocate and AssistNow (online, offline, and autonomous) further enhance positioning performance.
ALEX-R5 is optimized for power-sensitive and battery-dependent applications, addressing common pain points of size-constrained applications such as wearables and connected medical devices. Battery power is preserved by leveraging the lower power modes of the UBX-R5 and UBX-M8 chipsets and giving users options to further balance power consumption and performance using GNSS Super-E mode.
Its rugged SiP construction makes it a perfect fit for harsh environments, where moisture or vibration would be a concern for conventional modules. ALEX-R5 is rated at moisture sensitivity level 3 (MSL 3), offering reduced handling and device production complexity.
ALEX-R5 future-proofs IoT devices and solutions by enabling customers to software upgrade deployed devices for compatibility with 5G networks, offering a seamless transition to the next generation of cellular technology as 5G networks are rolled out by mobile operators.
Engineering samples of the ALEX-R5 SiP will be available by Q1, 2021.