STarGRID SoC Used In Spanish Smart-Metering STAR Project

Advanced automatic meter management (AMM) equipment for Spain’s new STAR Project will employ STMicroelectronics’ STarGRID ST7590 powerline communication (PLC) SoC. The STAR Project, which is based on the PRIME (PoweRline Intelligent Metering Evolution) standard, is the advanced metering infrastructure program from the IBERDROLA utility company.

In the first deployment, planned for completion by early 2011, approximately 100,000 PRIME-compliant smart meters will have been installed by IBERDOLA in Castellon, Spain. Deployment of more than 10 million meters is expected over the next few years in Spain. The ST7590-enhanced AMM equipment has passed all PRIME-compliancy certification tests performed by KEMA, the international certification body.  

The ST7590 SoC is the latest member of the STarGRID family. It offers a flexible, scalable, and future-proof powerline communication platform that can be easily adapted to different smart-grid application needs and protocol standards. In addition, the platform optimises power consumption and system cost more effectively than solutions based on multi-purpose standalone DSPs. The latter requires additional external analog front end and powerline driver components.

The ST7590 is constructed using ST’s BCD8 smart power technology. It allows the integration of an optimized DSP engine for different modulation schemes and physical-layer services management, a digital 8-bit industrial microcontroller core for system supervising and protocol stack management, the full receiving and transmitting analog front end, and an integrated power amplifier with on-board programmable filtering. The power amp is capable of more than 1A rms of current to drive very low impedances loads.

The optional integration of specific functions, such as a dedicated hardware accelerator for 128-bit AES data-encryption management, a built-in channel quality estimation feature based on signal-to-noise and line-impedance measurements, and other critical functions, increases system performance and capabilities. Moreover, integrating full analog-front-end and high linear power-amplifier blocks reduces both the system’s bill of materials and customer development effort. The chip’s robust OFDM modulation of up to 128kbps fully complies with PRIME protocol standard specifications.

The STarGRID platform also includes the ST758x family, which performs innovative dual-channel communication with n-PSK modulation schemes up to 28.8kbps. It’s suitable for different protocol implementations, such as the “Meters & More” specification, which the ENEL group adopted for the recent ENDESA multi-million metering project in Spain.

Also included in the STarGRID platform is the ST7570, which performs an S-FSK modulation up to 2.4 kbps. Moreover, it integrates a full turnkey IEC 61334-5-1-compliant protocol stack with new advanced communication features to address standard automatic meter-reading services and other command and control applications. Among the potential applications are some street-lighting control and sub-metering systems that require a cost-effective implementation and consolidated standard protocol compliancy.

All STarGRID family members feature pin-to-pin compatible 7x7mm small-footprint QFN48 package options.

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