SAN JOSE, Calif. Echelon Corp. is upgrading the chips and software that make up its LonWorks suite. The company says its new products will make it cheaper and easier to deploy control networks.
Echelon will crank its Neuron 5000 processor up to 40 MHz, twice its previous maximum speed. It also is rolling out two twisted-pair transceivers.
The chips now sport on-board hardware multipliers and dividers, fast serial memory interfaces and support for 254 network variables (up from 62) so nodes can make more functional links. The additional muscle will let users install networks that require fewer control processors and transceivers.
The net result is users could cut in half the cost of existing LonWorks nodes. "It's a big leap," said Abhay Gupta, a product manager for Echelon.
The Neuron 5000 processor and FT 5000 transceivers will sample in May and be in production in August. To preserve compatibility the LonWorks control networks will continue to support the existing data rates of 78 Kbits/second on twisted pair and 6.6 Kbits/s over powerline.
On the software side, Echelon has upgraded its LNS FX network operating system, LonMaker FX installation tool and its NodeBuilder FX Development Tool and Mini FX evaluation kit. Both the new operating system and the LonMaker integration tool for field installers automatically recognize Neuron 5000 based chips.
The upgraded operating system and installation tools will not be available until 2010. The NodeBuilder development tool will be available in May with the Mini FX kit following in the fall. As many as 80 million of the devices are already in use including deployments in the New York City subway system and in New York City public schools.