Integrated modem lowers costs

ON Semiconductor has added the AMIS-49587 to its power line carrier (PLC) modem family. It is ideal for use in applications such as electric automatic meter reading and management, street lighting control, smart power plug and building automation. By offering an integrated single chip solution, the IEC1334 compliant AMIS-49587 helps to simplify designs, lower development and implementation costs, and speed time to market.

This new device is based around an ARM7TDMI processor core and includes both the physical interface transceiver (PHY) and the media access controller (MAC) layers whereas most competing solutions require complex embedded software to perform the same functions as the AMIS-49587. 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 2400 bits/sec (baud) can be achieved. A low operating frequency of less than 20 kilohertz (kHz) with an automatic repeater function further supports dependable communications with fewer communication errors than alternative and existing solutions. Synchronization 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 percent of the software development effort can be saved leading to a shorter time to market and reduced overall cost.

Driven by governmental regulation and various energy efficiency initiatives, the emerging smart meter market is set to develop at a fast rate. According to IMS Researchs ongoing analysis of the global smart meter market, in 2008, global smart meter shipments reached a market size of roughly 10 million 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 meters continue to grow at a rough annualized rate of 20 per cent.

In addition, the European Parliament decided to roll-out smart meters in all EU Member States by 2022, with 80 per cent coverage to be achieved by 2020. According to a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) report, smart meters already represent 4.7 percent of installed meters in the United States, which is up from 1 percent 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 meter to produce real-time visibility of electricity and gas consumption will allow utility providers and governments to reduce power loss, optimize 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 Semiconductors existing half-duplex S-FSK modem. Operating temperature range for the AMIS-49587 is -40C to 80C. ON Semiconductor will offer the AMIS-49587 in a QFN package soon.

Pricing and Availability
The AMIS-49587 is currently available and budgetary pricing is $11.00 USD for quantities of 1,000 units and above. AMIS-49587 evaluation kits are available.