New OFDM powerline modem

Paul Boughton

Renesas Electronics Europe, a provider of advanced semiconductor solutions, has announced a new OFDM powerline modem, the second generation of its family of powerline communication (PLC) modem solutions. The Renesas PLC device, an orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (OFDM) solution designed for smart metering applications, maintains the flexible concept of the original Renesas PLC chip range. It offers broad-based support for multiple OFDM powerline standards such as G3 and PRIME.

The completely software-based implementation facilitates the design of a single meter platform ready to support multiple standards and multiple frequency bands like CENELEC A, FCC and ARIB as well as worldwide markets. This significantly reduces the design effort and cost.

The future proof solution fully supports global mainstream OFDM powerline communication standards, such as PRIME V1.3.6 and G3, and will be delivered with fully certified libraries. Moreover, it has been designed to support any evolution of the existing protocols and any future introduction of new OFDM based narrowband PLC standards. Renesas already supports the evolution of the PRIME V1.4 protocol and is working within the alliance framework to develop a solution that enables its use in the market.

The Renesas PLC platform is based on a highly integrated modem system-on-chip (uPD809508), integrating a MAC controller and a high performance DSP for the physical layer (PHY) implementation, combined with an embedded Analog Front End (AFE) including an adaptive gain amplifier. This ensures exceptional signal quality in highly dynamic and harsh network environments, such as those found in metering applications.

As a result, the solution shows outstanding robustness and unique sensitivity characteristics. The very low power consumption level helps reduce the overall system power consumption, one of the main criteria for selection by power utilities.

The small 48-pin QFP package saves PCB board space, reducing the BoM cost, and enables engineers to design small form factor PLC add-on modules. In combination with the wide range of Renesas pin, software compatible and scalable microcontrollers, the Renesas PLC device provides an open architecture that allows flexible system partitioning by selecting the best fit application microcontroller to contribute to further BoM cost reduction. This is not only valid for smart metering applications, but also for other smart grid applications, such as street lighting.