New chipset enables smart grid communications

Maxim Integrated Products announces the MAX2992, an OFDM-based powerline communication (PLC) modem that teams up with the MAX2991 analog front-end (AFE) to offer a complete PLC chipset for smart grid communications. The new chipset complies with the emerging IEEE P1901.2 standard for OFDM-based communication over power lines and means guaranteed interoperability. Standards compliance is vital to enabling smart grid deployments because it helps utilities protect their infrastructure investments.

The company's G3-PLC technology offers the speed, quality, and range required by large-scale powerline networks. G3-PLC uses advanced broadband communication techniques to achieve speeds up to 300 kbps in the noisy powerline environment. It also uses OFDM technology to transmit data over multiple carriers, which lets designers avoid interference at specific frequencies. In addition, G3-PLC features a high quality operating mode, efficient channel coding, and built-in error-correction mechanisms to guarantee reliable transmission, even when background noise is stronger than the signal itself.

This level of quality reduces deployment costs for utilities. G3-PLC can communicate across transformers, allowing utilities to connect more users to each data concentrator. This then reduces the number of concentrators, saving equipment, installation, and maintenance costs. G3-PLC can also communicate over long-distance medium-voltage lines at high speeds. Tested over 10 km, this saves the expense of multiple repeaters, giving G3-PLC a big cost advantage over other wired and wireless technologies.

The G3-PLC specification also 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.

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

The chipset features:

  • Worldwide compliance with regulatory bodies such as CENELEC, ARIB, and FCC
  • Plug-and-play architecture to reduce installation cost
  • Support for IPv6 to allow Internet-based energy management systems
  • Enhanced CSMA/CA and automatic repeat request, together with mesh routing protocol, to support all common MAC services for various network topologies
  • 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
  • Two layers of forward error correction (FEC) for robust data communication in harsh channels

For more information, contact Maxim Integrated Products, 120 San Gabriel Dr., Sunnyvale, CA 94086. Phone: (408) 737-7600.

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