Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Wireless M-Bus platform to simplify European smart meter development

Steve Rogerson
April 15, 2015
 
A complete Wireless M-Bus platform has been introduced to simplify the development of wirelessly connected smart meters for electricity, gas, water and heat resources in the European market. The product from Texas-based Silicon Labs includes the Wireless M-Bus software stack and wireless starter kits to speed time to market.
 
The platform is portable across the company’s ARM-based microcontrollers (MCUs) and sub-GHz wireless ICs, and it supports all modes for smart metering in Europe including the popular 169MHz N modes.
 
The open Wireless M-Bus protocol provides wireless connectivity for smart metering and smart grid applications. Based on the EN13757-4/3 European standards, it specifies seamless sub-GHz RF communications between smart utility meters, data concentrators, mobile readout devices and heat cost allocators.
 
“As a leading supplier of sub-GHz connectivity for the internet of things, Silicon Labs has developed field-proven expertise in Wireless M-Bus technology for the European metering market,” said Daniel Cooley, vice president and general manager of Silicon Labs’ microcontroller and wireless products. “We’ve channelled our smart metering application knowledge into the industry’s most comprehensive, standards-based Wireless M-Bus platform, enabling developers to simplify and accelerate their smart meter designs for rapid deployment across Europe.”
 
Wireless smart meter applications require long life for battery-powered meters such as water, gas and heat meters. To address this need, the protocol requires little overhead for the small amounts of data used by meters, enabling battery life of up to 15 to 20 years. Proven over the past several years in numerous field tests and deployments in many countries, it has become a widely accepted standard for smart metering in Europe.
 
The platform covers all region-specific requirements throughout Europe. German company Stackforce developed the sub-GHz software stack, which complies with the EN13757-4 Wireless M-Bus specification, the EN13757-3 Wireless M-Bus application layer and the application layer of the Open Metering System (OMS) Group. The stack supports modes at 868 and 169MHz from the physical layer to the application layer. Supported modes include T1, T2, S1, S1-M, S2, C1, C2, N1 and N2 (a-g), with preamble detection for the N modes without sacrificing RF performance.
 
 “We are proud to partner with a leading semiconductor provider such as Silicon Labs on a very complete Wireless M-Bus platform,” said David Rahusen, managing director of Stackforce. “Silicon Labs’ high-performance solution based on an optimised modular stack architecture developed by Stackforce serves as an excellent platform for an efficient, easily adaptable and scalable Wireless M-Bus solution.”
 
The Wireless M-Bus platform is optimised for modularity and scalability, RF performance, low power and a small memory footprint – as small as 32kbyte flash depending on mode and device type. The software stack provides an API-based access for both application and extended data link layers. The stack also includes an optional serial command interface to enable control of the Wireless M-Bus software from an external host processor. It uses a hardware AES encryption engine to provide security for metering systems.
 
The modular architecture has an open hardware abstraction layer, providing developers with flexibility to select the optimal MCU and sub-GHz RF devices to meet the performance, cost and size requirements of their metering applications. The software is available in binary and object code format for Silicon Labs’ 32bit EZR32 sub-GHz wireless MCUs, as well as a combination of EZRadioPro sub-GHz RF transceivers and the entire 32bit EFM32 Gecko MCU portfolio.
 
The software package includes a quick-start guide, API documentation, pre-compiled libraries for ARM Cortex-M0+, M3 and M4 cores, and PC tools to configure a meter or collector with a demo application. EZR32 starter kits are optimised for the developer’s desired frequency bands – 868MHz (SLWSTK6220A) and 169MHz (SLWSTK6224A).
 
The quick-start guide provides the information developers need to get started with their metering applications. Also available are design files including schematics, bill of materials and layouts including +27dBm designs for the Italian market.