Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Semtech PLC and RF modem suits smart metering applications

Steve Rogerson
May 17, 2016
Semiconductor company Semtech has introduced the EV8600 dual PLC and RF modem system-on-chip with integrated LoRa wireless technology for smart grid, smart metering and IoT applications.
Its features are said to help reduce network operational costs of advance metering infrastructures (AMI) by up to 50 per cent. In addition, the modem enables seamless LoRa gateway network deployment of IoT services for smart city and industrial automation.
By offering both a power line communications (PLC) modem operating at 10 to 500kHz and an RF modem in the range 142 to 1050MHz, it enables fuller connectivity coverage with a single chip. There is also a LoRa fallback mode in the event of a complete network outage caused by a natural disaster or other unforeseen events.
“The integration of Semtech LoRa technology in the EV8600 enables critical access for network operators and provides further reliability in network operations,” said Reza Mirkhani, vice president at California-based Semtech. “It helps eliminate the one per cent problem in AMI networks, where the cost of reaching the one per cent hard-to-reach nodes can account for as much as 50 per cent of the entire AMI network operational cost.”
To simplify the design effort, the modem performs all bridging and routing algorithms between the two internal modems and has embedded dual image flash memory. The implementation of LoRa features is accompanied by the addition of the Wireless M-Bus protocol for sub-metering applications.
 “We already see AMI networks migrating to PLC plus RF dual phy architectures to achieve as close to 100 per cent coverage as possible,” said Mirkhani. “The addition of LoRa to EV8600 enables each end node to become a LoRa gateway, servicing LoRa-based devices and back hauling their data over the PLC network. Also, the LoRaWan network protocol allows for seamless interoperability among smart things across the network.”
The system-on-chip comprises a PLC modem and a sub-gigahertz RF transceiver with internal secure flash memory. It also includes an applications processor with bridging and routing algorithms between PLC and RF modems.
The PLC modem has an integrated analogue front-end, dual processor mac and network architecture, and programmable frequency from 9 to 490kHz.
The RF modem has 168dB maximum link budget, programmable bit rate up to 300kbit/s, sensitivity down to -148dBm, integrated synthesiser with a resolution of 61Hz, built-in bit synchroniser for clock recovery, preamble detection, and built-in temperature sensor and low battery indicator.
Zenner is to integrate Semtech’s LoRa RF technology into its water, heat, gas, smoke and electricity measuring devices being deployed in low power, wide area networks (LPWANs) globally.