Low-power wireless transceiver doubles operational lifetime of smart meters

April 27, 2012 // By Paul Buckley
STMicroelectronics has introduced a high-performance, ultra-low-power wireless transceiver for Automatic Meter Infrastructure and other wireless sensor node applications, such as alarm and security systems, home and building automation, and industrial monitoring and control.

The SPIRIT1 transceiver claims to combine excellent receiver sensitivity with unbeatable current consumption, delivering 50% power reduction over existing solutions in the  market.  

Replacing traditional electromechanical meters, 'smart' electronic meters bring many advantages for utility providers and consumers alike. Features like full remote control, power peak and consumption analysis, anti-tampering mechanisms, fault alert, and time-variable tariffs, help make both the supply and usage of electricity, gas or water more efficient and economical.

The SPIRIT1 transceiver handles the communication between smart meters in households and businesses and the neighborhood data concentrator, which relays the information to the utility provider control center. By enabling short-range transmissions in frequency ranges below 1 GHz, SPIRIT1 ensures proper wireless signal propagation through concrete walls and building structures.     

Power consumption is a critical parameter in battery-powered wireless metering applications. SPIRIT1 delivers an unparalleled competitive advantage of extremely low current consumption, slashed by as much as 50% over existing solutions in the market. This enables SPIRIT1-equipped applications to be in operation for up to twice the time of other solutions without the need to replace batteries.     

SPIRIT1 features receiver sensitivity of -120 dBm which allows the designer to lower the output power of the transmitter and thus further decrease the overall current consumption, while maintaining a highly robust communication channel. The transceiver supports advanced technologies like frequency hopping, auto-acknowledgment and antenna diversity to secure error-free data transmission even in harsh-environmental or challenging-logistical conditions.     

Additional embedded features include 128-bit data encryption, error correction and detection, FIFO memory blocks, as well as highly flexible and programmable data packet management, which contribute to reducing the computation load of the host microcontroller and the overall system cost. 

www.st.com