Since the company’s founding in 1993 as a joint venture between STMicroelectronics and Cadence Design Systems, Accent has evolved from being a design services provider, with differentiated capabilities in such areas as precision analog and embedded design, to a turnkey silicon solution provider. During this time, Accent has established a track record of more than 300 successful designs and tens of millions of semiconductor parts manufactured for clients to date.
A key factor to the company’s success has been focused technology investments and the pre-integration of these technologies into SoC (System-on-Chip) platform products, which significantly reduces customers development costs and provides a low-risk, fast time-to-market.
Moving to 2010 and the introduction of ASMgrid, Accent is taking a logical next step in its growth as the company focuses its future direction on meeting the needs of the rapidly emerging Clean Tech industry. At the forefront of this technology revolution has been the introduction of Smart Meters, which will usher in a new class of energy efficiency enabling the world to preserve natural resources and reduce CO2 emissions. As the Smart Grid infrastructure is put in place, a wave of technology innovation will also sweep the home, introducing Smart Appliances that will provide consumers the necessary tools to reduce their carbon footprint. The opportunity is unprecedented as not only as businesses and consumers stand to benefit but the planet as well.
The following paper provides details on the Accent ASMgrid offering and how it can be applied to meet the challenges faced from Smart Meter to Smart Appliance manufacturers in terms of increasing differentiation while reducing cost.
Chapter 1: ASMgrid platform
ASMgrid is the first generation of Accent SoC Platforms tailored to the demanding needs of products in the Smart Grid sector. The ASMgrid modular, silicon platform pre-integrates the functionality of 5 standard ICs enabling a reduction of up to 50 percent in a product’s electronic BOM. Key platform features include:
802.15.4 radio and modem (for ZigBee. Pro)
Powerline communication modem and AFE
Different microcontroller options including ARM. Cortex-M3.
Integrated Flash memory
Integrated LCD driver
Embedded temperature sensor
ASMgrid’s modular approach enables rapid architectural and design modifications with customer tailored mass-production silicon in as little as 3-6 months. Similarly, development costs are reduced by as much as 75 percent compared to a traditional custom silicon approach. The silicon proven technology and methodology is tested and verified. As an example of this, the ASMgrid1.0 reference silicon device from Accent is a full-featured platform configuration which implements the above features with an ARM Cortex-M3 processor. For AMI (Advanced Metering Infrastructure) meter products, ASMgrid1.0 provides an excellent solution which customers may use for quickest TTM (Time-To-Market) and lowest development cost.
ASMgrid includes a comprehensive set of software libraries and drivers. Respective certifications are also available. For example, when Accent’s ZigBee Pro protocol stack is coupled with the ASMgrid hardware development kit, the combination implements a ZigBee Compliant Platform.