Agilent claims industry-first with single-chip analog front end for powerline modems

January 19, 2004

2 Min Read

BOBLINGEN, Germany -- Agilent Technologies introduced the industry's first fully integrated, optical-based analog front-end (AFE) chip for narrowband powerline modems (PLMs), which are used in the energy utility and home networking markets. The chip replaces more than 30 discrete components, reducing board space by 50 percent. Fewer parts simplifies PLM design and improves system performance and reliability. The Agilent HCPL-800J DAA (data access arrangement) chip represents a lower cost, higher performance alternative to current AFE designs that combine an isolation transformer with multiple discrete components.

Narrowband powerline communication systems typically operate at up to 9.6 kb/s. They use PLMs, which plug into AC power outlets, to enable the transmission of information through electrical power lines, delivering control and automation for various electrical functions and opening new electrical service markets. Agilent's fully integrated powerline DAA chip enables the development of cost-effective PLM network connectivity for both automated meter reading and home network applications. PLMs used in a home network environment allow centralized control and monitoring of home lighting and security systems as well as appliances such as thermostats, motorized entry gates and dishwashers. Narrowband PLMs allow utility companies to automatically and remotely gather information on energy consumption for billing and demand management.

The Agilent HCPL-800J interfaces the PLM transceiver/ENDEC (encoder-decoder) IC with the AC powerline used as the signal transmission medium. It provides voltage and signal amplification, and galvanic isolation protects the user and the equipment being interfaced to the PLM. The HCPL-800J incorporates a control IC and a line IC, optically isolated from each other. The modulated signal from the PLM transceiver is input to the control IC. This transmit signal is optically coupled to the line IC, then amplified and sent to the powerline. In the other direction, a potentially weak and noisy signal from the powerline is received by the line IC and optically coupled to the control IC, where it is amplified and output to the PLM transceiver.

Agilent Technologies Inc.

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