STMicro Adds Wireless Capability to its Smart-Meter Chipset

STMicroelectronics has added wireless communication capabilities to its market-proven smart-meter chipset for smart cities. Already widely used in smart electricity meters, ST’s ST8500 powerline communication (PLC) chipset can now communicate through existing power cables or RF waves.

Where power lines may be too noisy for PLC, or where local regulations dictate, equipment makers can now implement wireless and PLC quickly and efficiently using the ST8500. In addition, the built-in RF capability lets equipment designers leverage the ST8500’s high feature integration and ease of use in other smart devices such as gas and water smart meters, environmental monitors, lighting controllers, and industrial sensors.

ADD Grup, a European smart-metering solutions company, is the first to announce new hybrid PLC/wireless products that contain this enhanced chipset. According to the company’s Head of Sales and Marketing, Ruslan Casico, with wireless support now fully integrated in the ST8500 firmware, ST’s chipset is the perfect platform to enhance network performance, reliability, capacity, and scalability for the innovative electricity meters. The hybrid PLC/wireless connectivity of these new products has helped ADD win important metering projects in EMEA, Russia, and Asia.

According to Domenico Arrigo, General Manager, Industrial and Power Conversion Division, STMicroelectronics, ADD Grup is leading the deployment of ST’s chipset in the next generation of smart meters. By supporting RF communication alongside the leading PLC protocols, the market-proven chipset enables smart city and industry infrastructures worldwide to deliver more of their potential for saving the planet’s resources and enhancing control and efficiency.

Technical Information:

By embedding support for RF Mesh at the physical (PHY) layer and in the data-link layer (Media Access Control, MAC, and 6LoWPAN) firmware, the ST8500 gives developers extra flexibility to leverage the strengths of combined powerline and wireless mesh networking for communication between smart nodes and data collectors. Unlike simple point-to-point links, hybrid mesh networking interconnects nodes extensively to create more reliable and fault-tolerant connections and extend communication distances.

ST is continually enhancing its ST8500 programmable system-on-chip and companion STLD1 line driver to update and extend functionality. Earlier in 2019, the ST8500 was certified in accordance with the latest PRIME 1.4 base node and G3-PLC CENELEC B PAN coordinator specifications, in addition to existing protocols, enabling use in a wider variety of PLC-network node types. ST’s certified solutions enable device manufacturers to gain product approval and deploy quickly and easily in territories worldwide.

ST also recently introduced a complete turnkey development package to help users create G3-PLC nodes for smart-energy, smart-building, smart-city, and similar applications. The package supports ST’s EVALKITST8500-1 evaluation kit and provides a full open-source firmware framework including protocol stacks, the 6LowPAN adaptation layer for IPv6, and protocol-engine and real-time engine firmware images. The package also includes an STM32 application example and the STSW-SGKITGUI SmartGrid LabTool GUI for configuring and controlling the EVALKITST8500-1 hardware, running application commands, and applying firmware upgrades.

The chipset is now in production. ST is also exhibited and demonstrated the ST8500 chipset and smart-meter, smart-home and building, and smart-infrastructure customer solutions at the European Utility Week in Paris from November 12-14.