Quantifying BLE Power Consumption, Data Rate and Communication Range

August 23, 2018 by Paul Shepard

Engineers at Rutronik have conducted a new study on the latest generation of Bluetooth Low Energy through a series of extensive real-world tests. Aimed at determining the communication range, data throughput, and energy consumption of the Bluetooth 5 line, the study analyzes the performance of the wireless standard under various conditions, and gives insights into the possible new fields of applications for the technology.

The tests were conducted using a prototype of the Nordic Semiconductor nRF52840 chip for the hardware and an alpha version of Soft Device S140 for the software. During the study, engineers experimented with two preview development kits (PDKs), which were both linked and gradually moved apart to measure the power consumption, data throughput, and range of Bluetooth 5.

The measurements were carried out in an open field, a forest, an urban shopping mall, and offices in order to simulate different areas of use.

The results of the study show that different connection parameters have a major impact on data throughput and thus, an effect on energy consumption as well. For example, the study revealed there was a significant increase in range compared to the previous version, Bluetooth Low Energy 4.2, with a simultaneous reduction in energy consumption.

A white paper that details the results of the study and provides a brief summary of the Bluetooth 5 specifications, as well as an overview of relevant products, is available for download.

Rutronik Supports Young Researchers

Both the Bluetooth Low Energy 5 study and white paper originated from a bachelor thesis written by a Pforzheim University student who interned at Rutronik, where he studied the performance of Bluetooth 5.

"Supporting university students is a matter of course for us. Working on projects and the opportunity to contribute their own ideas to academic research not only benefits our students- we as a company also profit from their ideas and can directly pass on the knowledge we gain to our customers as added value at no charge," said Bernd Hantsche, marketing director, Embedded and Wireless at Rutronik.