broadcom logo Broadcom promises 10 year battery life for Bluetooth keyboards

Don't you just hate when your wireless peripherals run out of battery? And there's never a spare set around when you need them either. Well, this may soon just be a bad memory, at last if Broadcom has anything to do with it, as the company has developed a new Bluetooth low energy based chip for keyboards that the company claims will enable up to 10 years battery life.

Don't you just hate when your wireless peripherals run out of battery? And there's never a spare set around when you need them either. Well, this may soon just be a bad memory, at last if Broadcom has anything to do with it, as the company has developed a new Bluetooth low energy based chip for keyboards that the company claims will enable up to 10 years battery life.

The chip in question is called the BCM20730 and Broadcom claims that it's backwards compatible with previous Bluetooth standards, although presumably at increased power drain. The BCM20730 is one of the first implementations of Bluetooth 4.0, a standard that so far has only shown up in a few mobile devices, but which is promising greatly increased battery performance at the cost of data transfer speeds.

The BCM20730 emulates a USB HID device and Broadcom claims that thanks to its ZeroTouch configuration technology there shouldn't be any need for pairing up a device built around the chip to the computer it's being used with. Another benefit of Bluetooth 4.0 is a vastly reduced latency from idle to an active state. This should make Bluetooth 4.0 peripherals feel much more responsive than older Bluetooth devices. One concern we have though is the vastly reduced data rate, as Bluetooth low energy is limited to a mere 260Kbps, which doesn't seem ideal for a wireless keyboard, but we'd have to try a device out before we can say for certain.

Beyond being used for keyboards, Broadcom is suggesting that the BCM20730 would work well with 3D glasses, mice, game controllers and just about any other kind of wireless device controller. Broadcom has even built in an ARM Cortex M3 SoC to remove the need for any additional processing being done by a third party chip in wireless devices. With a bit of luck it shouldn't take too long until we see some Bluetooth low power devices in the market and we'll hopefully get our hands on some for testing to see if they're better than older Bluetooth 2.1 devices in terms of responsiveness and power usage.

Update: Broadcom got in touch with us to let us know that the BCM20730 is actually not Bluetooth BLE, instead it's a standard Bluetooth chip offering the same low power advantages as a Bluetooth BLE chip would, but without the performance hit you get by using BLE.

Source: Broadcom