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I am working on a BLE project. As per initial research, decided to use the cc2541 chip as BLE module. I have found one here. As per the datasheet, it shows it contains BLE and MCU. I need to program the MCU for accessing the GPIO pins. Can I connect a USB-TTL converter and program SoC like this or is it requires special development kits for development.

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Official tools are listed at TI's site http://www.ti.com/product/CC2541/toolssoftware

You need an 8051 toolchain (compiler and friends). You also need a programmer like the CC-DEBUGGER. There may be some software that can bit-bang an FTDI chip to program the CC2541.

Development kit is the easiest option to get started with a new chip.

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    \$\begingroup\$ And personally I find Cortex-M Bluetooth chips easier to work with as you can use popular toolchains and standard ARM debug probes (like J-Link). Have a look at Nordic Semi and Silicon Labs for example. \$\endgroup\$ – filo Aug 28 '18 at 10:10

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