NEC Electronics America Teams With Ariane Controls To Support Designers Of Electronics Systems

October 13, 2008 by Jeff Shepard

To support customers developing command and control systems for "smart energy" applications such as utility metering, demand response, intelligent lighting and home area networks (HANs), NEC Electronics America, Inc. announced that it has licensed Ariane Controls’ powerline communications (PLC) modem technology. NEC Electronics America plans to offer this PLC intellectual property (IP) as a building block for its ASIC and standard solutions customers. This technology is said to complement NEC’s efforts to help customers develop environmentally friendly systems, such as smart grid, advanced energy management and intelligent lighting solutions.

Earlier this year, NEC Electronics America and Ariane Controls worked closely to develop the Ariane Controls PLM-1 standalone PLC modem integrated circuit (IC), which offers a wide range of programmable transmission rates and communications frequencies to provide engineers with increased design flexibility and reliability. This agreement enables customers to purchase PLM-1 devices from NEC Electronics America.

"Ariane has developed a cost–effective, flexible PLC modem solution that can be migrated easily throughout our process technologies to provide our ASIC customers with a critical PLC building block and add functionality to our standard solutions lineup for emerging applications in the smart grid, intelligent lighting control and HAN markets," said Kazu Yamada, Vice President, custom SoC solutions strategic business unit, NEC Electronics America.

"Ariane’s goal is to create an open, interoperable standardized solution for energy management, and we are excited to expand our relationship with NEC Electronics America to offer our PLC modem IP to ASIC and standard solutions system designers," said Jean-Pierre Fournier, President, Ariane Controls. "We are also happy to have the support of NEC Electronics America and its broad network to distribute our standalone PLM-1 product."

The standalone PLM-1 integrated circuit incorporates NEC Electronics’ CMOS-9HD gate array platform in a small, 44-pin, low-profile quad flatpack (LQFP) package, allowing for easy integration into the powerline transceivers. The PLM-1 digital modem implements a half-duplex transmitter/receiver for PLCs using a frequency-shift key modulation technique, with programmable transmission rates ranging from 100 to 30,000 baud and communication frequencies ranging from 50 to 500kHz. The IC includes a complete set of programmable functions that allows designers to implement PLC networks with increased design flexibility and reliability. In addition, the device is protocol neutral, enabling the use of multiple protocols within one powerline network and the use of more than one protocol in a given application. The IC is RoHS-compliant and operates at 3.3V with power consumption levels as low as 24mW.