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PLC chipset complies with IEEE(R) P1901.2 standard

Posted: 12 May 2011 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:powerline communication? smart grid? standard compliance?

Maxim Integrated Products has introduced the MAX2992, an OFDM-based powerline communication (PLC) modem that pairs with the MAX2991 analog front-end (AFE) to provide a complete PLC chipset for smart grid communications.

Dubbed as the G3-PLC, the chipset complies with the emerging IEEE(R) P1901.2 standard for OFDM-based communication over power lines and offers guaranteed interoperability, which is critical to enable smart grid deployments as it helps utilities safeguard their substantial infrastructure investments.

According to Maxim, the G3-PLC technology provides the speed, robustness, and range demanded by large-scale powerline networks.

The G3-PLC employs advanced broadband communication techniques to achieve speeds up to 300kbps in the noisy powerline environment, using OFDM technology to transmit data over multiple carriers, allowing designers to avoid interference at specific frequencies.

In addition, the G3-PLC features a robust operating mode, bandwidth-efficient channel coding, and built-in error-correction mechanisms to guarantee reliable transmissioneven when noise is stronger than the signal.

According to the company, the G3-PLC's robustness substantially reduces deployment costs for utilities. Unlike other protocols, it can communicate across transformers and allow utilities to connect more users to each data concentrator, thus reducing the number of concentrators, saving equipment, installation, and maintenance costs.

The device can communicate over long-distance medium-voltage lines at high speeds. Tested over 10km. The company claims that this capability saves the expense of multiple repeaters, giving G3-PLC a significant cost advantage over other wired and wireless technologies.

The G3-PLC specification uniquely supports the IPv6 Internet-protocol standard to enable Internet-based energy management systems. IPv6 greatly expands the number of addresses available to grid-connected devices, ensuring that utilities can support new applications such as smart appliances and electric vehicle charging.

Operating over a wide 10kHz to 490kHz frequency range, G3-PLC complies with international powerline signaling regulations, including CENELEC, FCC, and ARIB.

Meanwhile, the MAX2992 is a system-on-chip (SoC) solution that combines the physical (PHY) and media access control (MAC) layers using a 32bit microcontroller core. The MAX2991 is a state-of-the-art AFE that features two-stage automatic gain control (AGC) with a 62dB dynamic range and on-chip programmable filters.

The chipset includes innovations, such as worldwide compliance with regulatory bodies such as CENELEC, ARIB, and FCC (10kHz to 490kHz), plug-and-play architecture to reduce installation cost, support for IPv6 to allow Internet-based energy management systems, and enhanced CSMA/CA and automatic repeat requesttogether with mesh routing protocolto support all common MAC services for various network topologies.

The chipset also features fast CCM authentication coprocessor with AES-128 encryption/decryption to enhance data security, adaptive tone mapping for optimal bandwidth utilization, robust mode of operation to improve communication under noisy channel conditions, and two layers of forward error correction (FEC) for robust data communication in harsh channels.

According to Michael Navid, executive business manager for powerline products at Maxim, smart grid deployments have, until now, been impeded by the lack of standards-compliant solutions, and that building intelligence into the existing power grid will cost hundreds of billions of dollars.

"Utilities need a solution that is standards-based to protect their investments, to allow sourcing from multiple vendors, and to facilitate the integration of new services and equipment," Navid said.

He added that from the start, G3-PLC was defined as an open standard for global implementations.

"Maxim partnered with ERDF [Electricit Rseau Distribution France] and major equipment manufacturers to define the specification, conduct field tests, and prepare to rollout a pilot deployment for customers in France this summer. ERDF plans to use this technology to connect 35 million customers to their smart grid network over the course of their project," Navid said.

Since G3-PLC has been recognized by multiple international standards bodies, independently tested by dozens of organizations worldwide, and adopted by several major international meter manufacturers, utilities around the world will be able to come off the sidelines and begin rolling out their smart grid networks with confidence.

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