Microchip – PRIME1.4 Hybrid, a complete platform
Microchip Technology Incorporated offers, in the area of smart energy, a complete platform of extensively tested solutions, with excellent technical support coupled with reliable delivery and quality.
The power line is designed to transport energy efficiently but not to be used to provide communications. Therefore, using it as a communications medium was a challenge that has only been possible with the evolution of technology that has allowed it to be used as an efficient and robust channel for communications.
Power line communications (PLC) is now a proven technology with success in tens of millions of devices around the world. The signal through the low voltage network reaches long distances, reaching subway locations, easily passing through metal structures such as cabinets or reinforced concrete.
Radio frequency (RF) technologies have also been used historically in other applications providing good solutions to the same challenge. Both technologies have their strengths and weaknesses, so the PRIME Alliance has combined them to offer a hybrid solution, providing a stronger and more versatile communications network.
The new hybrid version is fully backward compatible, so no additional investment is required to move from PLC to hybrid systems. The new solution allows the integration of hybrid and PLC-only devices on the same network and is also fully compatible with RF-only devices, enabling new applications such as water and gas meters or connectivity in smart cities or Industry 2.0.
Microchip Technology Inc. has led the development of PRIME Hybrid from the beginning and provides a proven and complete solution to developers of equipment such as electric, gas, or water meters, and any other type of equipment that needs a fully supported and guaranteed implementation.
For PLCs, our solution is based on the well-known PL460A, a programmable modem for narrowband PLCs, capable of running any PLC protocol in the frequency band below 500kHz. The PL460 incorporates the PLC signal amplifier stage, providing a highly integrated solution that reduces the overall bill of materials, simplifies the design, and facilitates the modem design.
For RF communication our solution uses the AT86RF215 a sub-1GHz/2.4GHz dual-band transceiver, proven in millions of devices, and compliant with IEEE 802.15.4-2011, IEEE 802.15.4g-2012 and ETSI TS 102 887-1 standards, providing the RF-PHY SUN FSK layer and also the SUN OFDM which allows for a four-fold increase in range.
Both devices can be connected to various Microchip MCU32s depending on the application requirements.
We especially recommend the new PIC32CXMT platform, based on the 32-bit ARM-M4 architecture. The PIC32CXMT platform is available in three different versions: single-core, dual-core and dual-core with AFE for advanced metrology. All three have full PLC support. This architecture integrates all the components for the implementation of high-end meters and new devices requiring connectivity with maximum security levels.
For low-cost PLC solutions, the SAMD20E18A + MPL460 platform is also available for PRIME 1.4 communication modules for applications such as streetlights, IoT sensors and industrial applications. In addition, the SAMD20E18A + AT86RF215 platform can be used for battery-powered PRIME 1.4 RF nodes in applications such as water and gas meters, IoT sensors and industrial applications.
Microchip’s PRIME 1.4 Hybrid solution can be evaluated by connecting the evaluation kits of the various devices, as shown in the figure.
These solutions have complete documentation, PRIME 1.4 Hybrid stack, various example projects and all the development tools to reduce time to market.
Microchip’s PRIME 1.4 Hybrid solution has already been successfully tested in a recent mass deployment in Egypt.
About the author
Alfredo Sanz has been an active member of the Technical Working Group and the Board of Directors of the PRIME Alliance since its founding. He leads Microchip’s Smart Energy group and has been contributing to communications technology in the energy sector for more than 20 years.
About Microchip Technology Incorporated
Microchip Technology Incorporated is a leading provider of integrated, intelligent, connected and secure control solutions. Its easy-to-use development tools and comprehensive product portfolio enable customers to create optimal designs that reduce risk while lowering total system cost and time to market. The company’s solutions serve more than 125,000 customers in the industrial, automotive, consumer, aerospace and defence, communications and computing markets.