Single-chip modem supports worldwide standards & frequencies

21st October 2015
Nat Bowers

Renesas Electronics has announced the third generation of its OFDM Power-Line Communication (PLC) modem solution which continues to provide the flexibility to support any PLC protocol standard, such as PRIME1.3.6/1.4 and G3, for all global frequency bands including CENELEC A, FCC and ARIB.

The 3rd gen flexible single-chip powerline solutions allows meter manufacturers to manage their key challenges more easily, as it helps significantly shorten time-to-market, minimise risk and maximise system cost efficiency. With its increased memory headroom and boosted protocol processing performance, new generation PLC protocols like PRIME 1.4 with full band-plan coverage can be supported. In addition, functions like dual-route communication can be implemented, helping customers to differentiate their products.

With the constant evolution of the metering market and the rise of smart meters, the metering manufacturers face many challenges in developing new smart grid systems including smart meters and concentrators to support ever changing needs. Governments and utility providers are drivers of this change and in many cases the tenders for the various mass deployments are divided into multiple tranches with different specifications and schedules. In response to this scenario, the meter manufacturers have to develop solutions to meet a rapid time-to-market requirement as well as a low total cost of ownership, at minimum risk. The clear solution is a flexible platform approach that meets the multiple PLC communications standards needed for pan-European and global solutions. Renesas’ 3rd gen flexible software defined multi-standard powerline solution fully meets these requirements.

With the proven record of success of the Renesas powerline solution predecessor devices, the aim for the new generation was to reduce overall BOM cost, to increase robustness, to increase performance and to even have the ability to support dual route communication where required. The new modem device integrates an enhanced Media Access Control (MAC) controller supporting large scale network hopping and routing as well as a high performance DSP with special instructions for PLC, covering the PHY and real time processes of the MAC implementation. Furthermore, DSP algorithms are implemented to improve robustness by using noise detection, noise reduction and error correction mechanisms. Exceptional signal quality and a wide dynamic range are ensured by the embedded AFE with an integrated adaptive gain amplifier including AGC functions. The integration of the LDO regulator, the DC/DC converter and the transmit filters in turn leads to a reduced noise impact from the power supply as well as to an overall reduced BOM.

A dedicated reference platform (YCONNECT-IT-PLC-CPX3) provides customers with flexible device configuration. The protocol stacks, including the related frequency bands, can be selected and the communication easily analysed with a dedicated PC GUI. It also allows the customisation of the evaluation software to the customer’s own test environment as well as the configuration of their test cases.

Niels Trapp, Senior Director, Segment Solutions, ICBG, Renesas Electronics Europe, commented: “Renesas again shows its leadership in communication standards which is only made possible by continuous investment into research, involvement in dedicated international consortia and working groups as well as direct engagements with leading meter manufacturers and major utilities. This allows the direct transfer of field experiences into the development, cost effectiveness and future proofing of the solutions.”

The official launch of the new Renesas OFDM powerline modem will take place at the European Utility Week, 3rd to 5th November 2015 in Vienna. Renesas will be showcasing next-gen solutions for metering and communication technologies on Stand B.d24.

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