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Maxim has launched the MAX2992 OFDM-based power-line communication (PLC) modem that pairs with the MAX2991 analogue front-end to provide a complete PLC chipset for smart-grid communications.

This chipset complies with the emerging IEEE P1901.2 standard for OFDM-based communication over power lines and offers guaranteed interoperability.

This standards compliance is critical to enabling smart-grid deployments as it helps utilities to safeguard their substantial infrastructure investments.

Michael Navid, executive business manager for power-line products at Maxim, said: ‘Until now, smart-grid deployments have been impeded by the lack of standards-compliant solutions.

‘Building intelligence into the existing power grid will cost hundreds of billions of dollars.

‘Utilities need a solution that is standards based to protect their investments, to allow sourcing from multiple vendors and to facilitate the integration of new services and equipment.

‘From the start, G3-PLC was defined as an open standard for global implementations.

‘Maxim partnered with ERDF [Electricite Reseau Distribution France] and major equipment manufacturers to define the specification, conduct field tests and prepare to roll out a pilot deployment for customers in France this summer.

‘ERDF plans to use this technology to connect 35 million customers to their smart-grid network over the course of its project.

‘Now that G3-PLC has been recognised by multiple international standards bodies, independently tested by dozens of organisations worldwide and adopted by several major international meter manufacturers, utilities around the world will be able to come off the sidelines and begin rolling out their smart-grid networks with confidence,’ he added.

Maxim’s G3-PLC technology provides the speed, robustness and range required by large-scale power-line networks.

G3-PLC employs advanced broadband communication techniques to achieve speeds of up to 300Kbps in the noisy power-line environment.

It uses OFDM technology to transmit data over multiple carriers, allowing designers to avoid interference at specific frequencies.

Additionally, G3-PLC features a robust operating mode, bandwidth-efficient channel coding and built-in error-correction mechanisms to ensure reliable transmission – even when noise is stronger than the signal.

This is said to substantially reduce deployment costs for utilities.

Unlike other protocols, G3-PLC can communicate across transformers, allowing utilities to connect more users to each data concentrator.

This reduces the number of concentrators, saving equipment, installation and maintenance costs.

In addition, G3-PLC can communicate over long-distance medium-voltage lines at high speeds.

Tested over 10km, this capability saves the expense of multiple repeaters, giving G3-PLC a significant cost advantage over other wired and wireless technologies.

The G3-PLC specification supports the IPv6 internet-protocol standard to enable internet-based energy management systems.

IPv6 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.

Operating over a 10kHz to 490kHz frequency range, G3-PLC complies with international power-line signalling regulations, including CENELEC, FCC and ARIB.

The MAX2992 is a system-on-chip (SoC) solution that combines the physical (PHY) and media access control (MAC) layers using a 32-bit microcontroller core.

The MAX2991 is an analogue front-end that features two-stage automatic gain control (AGC) with a 62dB dynamic range and on-chip programmable filters.

Maxim Integrated Products

Maxim Integrated Products is a publicly-traded company that designs, manufactures, and sells high-performance semiconductor products. The company was founded over 25 years ago with the mission to deliver innovative analogue and mixed-signal engineering solutions that add value to its customers' products. To date, it has developed over 6,400 products serving the industrial, communications, consumer, and computing markets.

Maxim reported revenue of approximately $2bn (£1.3bn) for fiscal 2010. A Fortune 1000 company, Maxim is included in the Nasdaq 100, the Russell 1000, and the MSCI USA indices. For more information, visit out website.

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