LONDON – Accent Spa, founded in 1993 as a design services joint venture between Cadence and STMicroelectronics, has launched three smart meter ICs, confirming its transformation into a fabless chip company focused on smart grid applications.
The ASMgrid standard product family supports home-area-network (HAN) and near-area-network (NAN) communication standards including IEEE 802.15.4g, G3, PRIME, IEEE 1901.2, home area networking with IEEE 802.15.4.
Accent (Milan, Italy) has included three chips in the product family with different processing capabilities, on-chip memories, RF protocol support and price points. These are: the ASM201, ASM211 and the ASM221 which are based on ARM926EJ-S, the Cortex-M0 and the Cortex-M3 processor cores from ARM respectively.
The ASM201 includes energy measurement on-chip and an 2.4-GHz radio and is aimed at smart home applications. Battery operation is supported by micro-amp standby modes of operation.
The ASM211 is intended for RF mesh networks. There is no on-chip energy management but it can serve as a companion chip to the ASM201 for meter-to-meter wireless mesh networking, which Accent said is the dominant architecture in North America. The chip provides hardware acceleration for the Accent Sunfx-4G modem which supports the IEEE 802.15.4g standard's proposed mandatory FSK modes and high-data rate.
The ASM221 supports OFDM [orthogonal frequency domain multiplex] powerline communications including the G3, PRIME, and IEEE1901.2 standards. The ASM221 integrates the Sunfx-PLC hardware accelerated modem and analog front-end. Like the ASM201 it includes Accent's AEMET energy measurement as well as local processing and non-volatile storage capability.
The chips are designed to operate at clock frequencies around 88-MHz and in the case of the ASM201, 192-MHz. The company did not indicate where it is getting the chips made. Product sampling for the ASMgrid2 ASSP family is expected to begin by Q4 2011.
The company is led by CEO Federico Arcelli and announced it had closed a 5 million euro (about $7 million) round of financing from Tallwood Venture Capital in October 2010. Pasquale Pistorio, former chairman and CEO of STMicroelectronics, and Alberto Sangiovanni-Vincentelli, a professor of Electrical Engineering at University of California Berkeley and cofounder of Cadence Design Systems Inc., serve on the board of the company.
I think they should develop and sell themselves. I do not see how they can compete in this crowded space. Was this company coming out of the Cadence Accelerator program? Yet to see any serious program from that program. Any idea?
One risk is opting-out for people who have radiation sensitivity, and wider knowledge of the facts that smart meters do NOT SAVE any energy, just motivation to move it to "cheaper" time window for benefit of utility investment capacity plan and peak load de-servicing.
Movement for opting-out by city is gaining speed.
Even any of the recent "new evidence" against cellphones, if it hold up to scientific scrutiny, would hardly implicate smart meters. Unless one were to press their head against a smart meter for long periods of time, it is implausible to think they would be a health risk. The RF field strength drops off so quickly with distance.
If one is looking for some RF source to worry about, it's not your smart meter or even the big bad cell phone tower... it's any wireless device that you hold, stick in your pocket or press against your body. The field strengths from those in your body are orders of magnitude stronger than the cumulative effects of remote devices.
I think the best advancement with the ASM201 is the energy measurement on chip. This will make for quicker and more accurate adjustments to energy flow and does away with the need for a separate monitoring system.
Jon - http://www.evosite.co.uk/
I think these new chips would help the company regain market share in the industry. The addition of energy measurement on-chip also shows that they understand the need for energy efficiency. If they are able to make stand by mode consume as little energy as possible, I would say they are definitely on to something good there.
Paul - http://www.connetu.com/
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