SUNNYVALE, USA: Maxim Integrated Products has joined 11 other companies in the smart grid industry to form a new global partnership, the G3-PLC Alliance. Announced at the Metering Europe Conference in Amsterdam, the G3-PLC Alliance was created to support the deployment of the G3-PLC powerline communications protocol, originally developed by Maxim. Maxim is a founding member of the Alliance.
"Until now, smart grid deployments have been impeded by the lack of standards-compliant solutions," explained Michael Navid, executive business manager for Powerline Products at Maxim. "Building intelligence into the existing power grid will cost tens of billions of dollars. Utilities need a solution that is standards-based to protect their investments, to allow sourcing from multiple vendors, and to facilitate the integration of new services and equipment."
"From the start, G3-PLC was defined as an open standard for global implementations," continued Navid. "Maxim partnered with ERDF [Electricité Réseau Distribution France] and Sagemcom to define the specification, conduct field tests, and roll out a pilot deployment for customers in France this past summer. In addition, since its release in 2009, the G3-PLC protocol has been successfully field-tested by dozens of utilities and independent organizations worldwide with great results."
G3-PLC has been adopted by multiple international standards (ITU, IEEE®, and CENELEC), independently tested by dozens of organizations worldwide, and implemented by several major international OEMs.
"Now, electricity utilities and distributers around the world will be able to come off the sidelines and begin rolling out their smart grid networks with confidence," said Mr. Navid. "Being one of the original founders of the G3-PLC Alliance, we are fully committed to supporting its objectives for the benefit of the industry."
Advantages of G3-PLC
Maxim's G3-PLC technology provides the speed, robustness, and range demanded by large-scale powerline networks.
G3-PLC employs advanced broadband communication techniques to achieve speeds up to 300kbps in the noisy powerline environment. It uses orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (OFDM) technology to transmit data over multiple carriers, allowing designers to avoid interference at specific frequencies. Additionally, G3-PLC features a robust operating mode, bandwidth-efficient channel coding, and built-in error-correction mechanisms to guarantee reliable transmission—even when noise is stronger than the signal.
This robustness substantially reduces deployment costs for utilities. Unlike other PLC protocols, G3-PLC can communicate across transformers, allowing utilities to connect more users to each data concentrator. This reduces the number of concentrators, saving equipment, installation, and maintenance costs. In addition, G3-PLC can communicate over long-distance medium-voltage lines at high speeds. Tested over 10km (with no repeaters), this capability saves the expense of multiple repeaters, giving G3-PLC a significant cost advantage over other wired and wireless technologies.
The G3-PLC specification uniquely supports the IPv6 Internet-protocol standard to enable Internet-based energy management systems. IPv6 greatly expands the number of addresses available to grid-connected devices, ensuring that utilities can support new applications, such as smart appliances and electric vehicle charging.
"In partnership with Maxim, Sagemcom developed the first G3-PLC smart meter solution supporting IPv6," said Eric Rieul, deputy CEO Sagemcom Energy & Telecom. "That solution is currently being deployed in France demonstrating the ability of this OFDM technology to provide the robustness, speed, and reliability necessary to fulfill the requirements of ERDF and the other utilities."
Operating over a wide 10kHz to 490kHz frequency range, G3-PLC complies with international powerline signaling regulations, including CENELEC, FCC, and ARIB.
The MAX2992 is a system-on-chip (SoC) solution that combines the physical (PHY) and media access control (MAC) layers using a 32-bit microcontroller core. The MAX2991 is a state-of-the-art analog-front-end (AFE) that features two-stage automatic gain control (AGC) with a 62dB dynamic range and on-chip programmable filters.
The chipset includes innovations such as:
* Worldwide compliance with regulatory bodies such as CENELEC, ARIB, and FCC (10kHz to 490kHz).
* Plug-and-play architecture to reduce implementation cost.
* Support for IPv6 to allow Internet-based energy management systems.
* Enhanced CSMA/CA and automatic repeat request (ARQ), together with mesh routing protocol to support all common MAC services for various network topologies.
* Fast CCM authentication coprocessor with AES-128 encryption/decryption to enhance data security.
* Adaptive tone mapping for optimal bandwidth utilization.
* Robust mode of operation to improve communication under noisy channel conditions.
* Two layers of forward error correction (FEC) for robust data communication in harsh powerline channels.