Renesas Electronics Europe, a provider of advanced semiconductor solutions, has announced the certification of the second generation of its OFDM powerline (PLC) modem for the FCC frequency band. This makes Renesas the first supplier worldwide to achieve certifications for all frequency bands as defined by the G3-PLC Alliance specifications, including ARIB (Japan Route B), Cenelec A and FCC. As a result, Renesas is again demonstrating its leadership and commitment to developing state of the art and future proof PLC solutions, contributing to the worldwide adoption of powerline communication standards such as G3-PLC.
G3-PLC is an orthogonal frequency-division multiplex (OFDM) based technology capable of addressing the difficult challenges of powerline communication in harsh and highly dynamic network environments, such as those found in metering applications. This outstanding behaviour is ensured by using dedicated modulation methodologies and making efficient use of the available spectrum under varying circumstances. It also uses specific signal processing techniques, such as two layer forward error correction (FEC), adaptive tone mapping and channel estimation, among others. In parallel, mesh routing mechanisms allow each node to determine the best path between remote network nodes. Renesas is a leading contributor to the G3 standard and has worked closely with the G3 alliance in the development of the worldwide G3 protocol.
Based on the G3-PLC specification, the differentiating factor for Renesas’ PLC modem is its use of dedicated implementation techniques. This is the result of the company’s several decades of experience with connectivity technologies. The certified device integrates a MAC controller as well as a high performance digital signal processor (DSP), covering the physical layer (PHY) implementation. The embedded analogue front end (AFE) contains an adaptive gain amplifier with automatic gain control (AGC) functions. This ensures exceptional signal quality with outstanding robustness and unique sensitivity characteristics.
The system architecture of Renesas’ second-generation device keeps the flexible concept of its award winning predecessor, allowing support for multiple standards and frequency bands with a single device. The solution, completely software based, enables seamless adjustment to any specification changes, modifications or even evolutions of the existing standards without the need for long development cycles. This in turn ensures investment protection as well as low cost of ownership, which is an advantage for meter makers targeting worldwide markets and significantly reduces the design effort and cost.
“To be the first company to certify all three band-plans for the G3-PLC shows Renesas’ dedication to the implementation and roll out of power line communication for metering applications,” said Niels Trapp, senior manager, Segment Marketing at Renesas Electronics Europe. “The fact that we were chosen by the G3-PLC Alliance to provide the reference hardware used for the certifications reflects the mature and innovative nature of our solution.”
A comprehensive and simple to use reference platform, which is built around the Renesas’ PLC hardware (YCONNECT-IT-PLC-CPX2), allows customers to evaluate the PLC solution and can also be used for development. The hardware supports the multiple frequency bands by a simple exchange of the relevant filter board – dedicated filter modules for Cenelec A and FCC/ARIB frequency bands are included with the tool. The PC GUI allows for flexible device configuration and powerline communication analysis. This, in combination with Renesas’ recognised dedication to customer support, ensures that everything is available for short and cost efficient development of OFDM based PLC applications.