Renesas certifies G3-powerline modem platform for all worldwide bands

March 26, 2015 // By Graham Prophet
Renesas Electronics Europe has announced the certification of the second generation of its OFDM powerline (PLC) modem for the FCC frequency band making the company, it says, the first supplier worldwide to achieve certifications for all frequency bands as defined by the G3-PLC Alliance specifications, including ARIB (Japan Route B), Cenelec A and FCC.

G3-PLC is an orthogonal frequency-division multiplex (OFDM) based technology capable of addressing the difficult challenges of powerline communication in harsh and highly dynamic network environments, such as those found in metering applications. This behaviour is ensured by using dedicated modulation methodologies and making efficient use of the available spectrum under varying circumstances. It also uses specific signal processing techniques, such as two layer forward error correction (FEC), adaptive tone mapping and channel estimation, among others. In parallel, mesh routing mechanisms allow each node to determine the best path between remote network nodes. Renesas is a leading contributor to the G3 standard and has worked closely with the G3 alliance in the development of the worldwide G3 protocol.

Based on the G3-PLC specification, the differentiating factor for Renesas’ PLC modem is its use of dedicated implementation techniques. The certified device integrates a MAC controller as well as a high performance digital signal processor (DSP), covering the physical layer (PHY) implementation. The embedded analogue front end (AFE) contains an adaptive gain amplifier with automatic gain control (AGC) functions. This ensures signal quality with robustness and sensitivity characteristics.

The system architecture of Renesas’ second-generation device keeps the flexible concept of its predecessor, allowing support for multiple standards and frequency bands with a single device. The solution, completely software based, enables seamless adjustment to any specification changes, modifications or even evolutions of the existing standards without the need for long development cycles. This in turn ensures investment protection as well as low cost of ownership, which is an advantage for meter makers targeting worldwide markets and significantly reduces the design effort and cost.

A comprehensive and simple to use reference platform, which is built around the Renesas’ PLC hardware (YCONNECT-IT-PLC-CPX2), allows engineers to evaluate the PLC solution and can also be used for development. The hardware supports the multiple frequency bands by a simple exchange of the relevant filter board – dedicated filter modules