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PLC modem cuts costs, speeds time to market

Posted: 04 Sep 2009     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:power line carrier  PLC modem  smart metre 

AMIS-49587 PLC modem

ON Semiconductor has beefed up its power line carrier (PLC) modem family with the release of AMIS-49587, a highly integrated, standard compliant, low-power solution for use in smart electric automatic metre reading and management, street lighting control, smart power plug and building automation.

Using ON Semi's mixed-signal technology lets the modem combine the analogue modem front end and digital post processing capability in the same IC.

In addition, by offering an integrated single-chip solution, the IEC1334 compliant AMIS-49587 simplifies design, lowers development and implementation costs, and speeds time to market. The new device is based around an ARM7TDMI processor core and includes both the PHY and MAC layers. This makes it possible to do away with complex embedded software required by similar solutions. Using the spread frequency shift keying (S-FSK) modulation technique coupled with accurate filtering gives robust low data rate communications on power lines over long distances. Half-duplex selectable communication speeds of 2,400bps (baud) can be achieved. A low operating frequency of less than 20kHz with an automatic repeater function further supports dependable communications with fewer communication errors than alternative and existing solutions. Synchronisation to the mains signal is done via an onboard low jitter PLL, and an embedded filter provides superior white noise and narrowband interference rejection. Direct connection to the host MCU is via a two-wire serial interface.

Due to its high level of integration and the onboard protocol embodiment, the AMIS-49587 accepts high level data inputs and eliminates the need for designers to go into PHY and MAC protocol transmission details. This higher-level interface means that up to 50 per cent of the software development effort can be saved leading to a shorter time to market and reduced overall cost.

Energy efficiency drive
Driven by governmental regulation and various energy efficiency initiatives, the emerging smart metre market is set to develop at a fast rate. According to IMS Research's ongoing analysis of the global smart metre market, in 2008, global smart metre shipments reached a market size of roughly 10 crore units. The North American market was particularly strong, estimated to have surged by almost 50 per cent in annual growth from 2007. Shipments of smart metres continue to grow at a rough annualised rate of 20 per cent.

Also, the European Parliament decided to roll-out smart metres in all EU member states by 2022, with 80 per cent coverage to be achieved by 2020. According to a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission report, smart metres already represent 4.7 per cent of installed metres in the United States, which is up from 1 per cent in 2006. China has invested in a massive smart grid project with estimated completion by 2020 with the goal to demonstrate how the country is using its energy.

"The ability of the smart metre to produce real-time visibility of electricity and gas consumption will allow utility providers and governments to reduce power loss, optimise consumption and manage demand of valuable energy resources," said Guido Remmerie, director motion control and energy management products at ON Semiconductor. "The AMIS-49587 from ON Semiconductor supports a complete PLC communication solution to bring the measured power data to the utility companies over the power lines."

Supplied in a PLCC 28 package, the Pb-free and RoHS-compliant AMIS-49587 is pin compatible with the AMIS-30585, ON Semiconductor's existing half-duplex S-FSK modem. Operating temperature range for the AMIS-49587 is -40°C to +80°C. ON Semiconductor will offer the AMIS-49587 in a QFN package soon.

The AMIS-49587 is currently available and budgetary pricing is Rs.537.33 ($11) for quantities of 1,000 units and above. AMIS-49587 evaluation kits are available.

Get related application notes and technical articles on Power Design India.

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