Four new Smart Grid solutions offer faster time to market benefits

Paul Buckley

October 16, 2011

Paul BuckleyOctober 16, 2011

Texas Instruments Incorporated has unveiled four new system solutions for Smart Grid and metering applications, enabling designers to further accelerate time to market for PLC-based and low-power wireless products. The evaluation kits, tools and new software can be ordered immediately to enable communication protocols and promote Smart Grid applications.

Advancing complete solutions for power line communications (PLC), TI introduced the new PLC Development Kit (TMDSPLCKIT-V3) that has received PRIME certification. Coupling the TMS320F2806x Piccolo floating-point microcontroller and new AFE031 analog front end (AFE), the new kit combines the best of analog and digital to deliver all of the key components required for today's advanced Smart Grid applications. The kit also offers new services that reduce device maintenance costs while increasing system reliability.

AFE031 claims to be the industry's most complete and flexible PLC analog front end that integrates the analog circuitry required for many PLC applications allowing customers to optimize the total bill of material (BOM) costs and board space in their designs, and significantly reduce design time and system complexity.

Piccolo microcontrollers have a smaller package and feature hardware acceleration for PLC algorithms providing system cost and power consumption optimization.

TI's flexible PLC modem solution is capable of supporting multiple standards and modulation schemes like PRIME, G3-PLC, FlexOFDM and PLC-Lite libraries, including CENELEC bands A, B, C and D, and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) band, enabling application compatibility with a wide variety of international requirements.

TI has also introduced the PLC data concentrator reference demo on the SGI evaluation platform. TI's new data concentrator supports various PLC standards, including PRIME, G3, FlexOFDM libraries and more, on the same hardware.

Developers now have the option to add PLC communication supporting different protocol standards in one design, rather than change hardware as previously required. Based on TI's PLC solution (AFE031+Piccolo MCU) for the PLC Physical layer (PHY) and lower Media Access Controller (MAC), and on Linux-operating-system-enabled AM18x ARM9 microprocessors or the pin-for-pin compatible OMAP-L138 DSP + ARM processor, for MAC and upper layer on ARM with optional analytics on the DSP, the data concentrator is fully supported by TI's software solutions and free hardware reference design schematics, BOM and layout gerber files.

Additionally, Cygnus Electronics has applied TI's technology to develop a new automotive solution that claims to offer the most evolved evaluation module for testing and enabling PLC communications for plug-in electric vehicles. Auto-rem is a narrowband communications solution that connects electric vehicles to electric vehicle supply equipments (EVSEs) over the J1772 pilot wire. Auto-rem (AREM-001) kits are immediately orderable from Cygnus Electronics for $495.00.

The Auto-rem kit offers plug-and-play DC messaging and provides a direct interface to automotive CAN connections. Optimized for low-cost and reliable communications between electric vehicles and charging stations, auto-rem features TI's new PLC solution (AFE031+Piccolo MCU).

The kit provides all necessary functions to connect the communications path from electric vehicle to off-board charging supply enabling developers to begin power management configuration for electric vehicles, EVSEs and simple energy management systems out of the box.

Also being introduced by TI is a new Wireless M-Bus (WMBUS) protocol stack that provides a complete system solution for standardized low-power wireless communication and enabling wireless meter reading. Combined with TI's power solutions, low-power microcontrollers, including embedded FRAM technology, the WMBUS protocol stack provides a cost-efficient system solution for smart metering applications including electricity and data collectors, and optimized battery life for smart water and gas meters. The stack also includes connectivity capabilities via TI's sub-1GHz CC1101 and CC1120 wireless transceivers and CC430 technology platform.

WMBUS software available from TI and developed by TI third party, Steinbeis (STZEDN), is optimized for low-cost platforms and includes product support and project integration services. WMBUS software is written in pure ANSI C to ease integration and provide user flexibility, and it supports all current versions of the WMBUS standard from TI, including the latest open meter specification (OMS). A PC application tool is available to demonstrate all potential commands for the protocol stack.

To learn more about TI's Smart Grid solutions, visit

http://www.ti.com/grid-smartgrid-lp.

http://www.ti.com/grid-plc-lp.

http://www.ti.com/grid-auto-rem-lp.

http://www.cygnuscorp.com.

This article originally appeared on EE Times Europe.

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