The ZigBee short-range wireless standard and the HomePlug Green PHY power-line communications (PLC) standard are vying for the communications role in new home area networks (HANs). Both can be used in smart meters and other HAN equipment, but neither technology fits all possible potential uses. Instead of having to choose the best technology for a specific home or industry product or facility, Greenvity Communications makes both technologies available on a single chip.
The Hybrii-XL chip (GV7011) integrates a full ZigBee radio and a HomePlug Green PHY transceiver (see the figure). This combination lowers the cost of HAN equipment and speeds up product design. It also uses less power than multiple separate chips and boards would need to support both standards. The chip integrates the full analog front end, RF, baseband, media access controller (MAC), embedded memory, and 8051 microcontroller, which implements low-power energy management.
The ZigBee radio achieves its standard 250-kbit/s rate with a power level to +13 dBm. The HomePlug PLC device uses robust orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (OFDM) over the 2- to 28-MHz spectrum to achieve rates to 9.8 Mbits/s. The chip also has multiple interfaces like SPI, UART, I2C, and Serial Flash, as well as 23 general-purpose I/O (GPIO) connections and even Ethernet.
Best of all, the Hybrii-XL automatically selects the best medium to transmit data, wirelessly or on the power line. For example, if the power line is too noisy, the wireless nodes will be enabled and vice versa, always ensuring reliable communications under most circumstances.
The Hybrii-XL has many potential uses in both home and industrial environments, such as smart meters, smart appliances, HVAC systems and thermostats, home energy monitors, home gateways, routers, solar inverters, and smart lighting control. It’s ideal for multi-dwelling units such as condos and apartments where PLC is often more reliable than wireless.
Greenvity also makes a similar chip, the Hybrii-PLC (GV7012), that’s a HomePlug Green PHY-only device. It’s designed for use in electric vehicles (EV), EV support equipment, and battery chargers. Both chips are now available for samples, and evaluation kits are available.