As utility companies adopt electronic-based meter reading technology to reduce costs while offering new services and energy-saving consumer options, Texas Instruments Incorporated (TI) (NYSE: TXN) announced the sampling of its 16 MHz MSP430F47x4 ultra-low power microcontrollers (MCU) for one- and multi-phase metering. By integrating up to four individual 16-bit sigma delta analog to digital converters (ADCs), a 32×32-bit hardware multiplier, a 160 segment LCD driver with contrast control, up to 60 KB of flash memory and a real time clock (RTC), the F47x4 devices enable a five-to-one reduction in system components. TI’s utility metering portfolio also includes devices targeted at water and gas metering, as well as power line communications (PLC) and radio frequency (RF) interfaces for automated meter reading (AMR).
With standby power consumption as low as 1.5 micro amps, a meter based on these new devices allow utilities to drastically reduce overall system power wastage. The F47x4 series of MCUs features several low-power modes allowing the meter to sleep with almost no power drain between readings. An extremely fast wake-up brings the device to full clock speed within six microseconds (us); together with a fast shut-down, this “instant-on” wake-up minimizes time spent in active mode.
Broad Portfolio Offers Full Range of Utility Metering
TI offers a broad portfolio of components to enable AMR-based electricity, water and gas metering. MSP430 MCUs provide ultra-low power consumption needed to extend battery life – over 12 plus years – eliminating costly ongoing meter service calls for battery replacement. The already available MSP430FE42xx series of devices includes an embedded signal processing (ESP) unit that integrates the metering function – including current and voltage measurement and power calculations, for faster system development and reduced BOM. TI also offers dedicated solutions including a single-chip flow meter, the available MSP430FW42xx MCU, which features an embedded scan interface optimized for measuring rotation and AMR interface.
TI’s Chipcon radio frequency (RF) technology, such as the CC1100, enables a wireless link between the meter and the meter reader. This increases reading accuracy while lowering collection costs.
PLC offers utilities access to meter control and data over existing high power lines over distances up to 50 kilometers for robust performance in a variety of control and monitoring applications in industrial and other rugged environments. TI’s 32-bit TMS320F28x digital signal controllers offer the performance and high integration required for data communications rates of up to 19.2 kbps in the in the sub-500KHz frequency range, ideal for metering applications.
AMR Saves Dollars for Utility Companies and Consumers
Electronic metering and AMR, estimated to grow to $2.01 billion in North America by 2012 according to Frost & Sullivan, helps meet growing requirements for demand response and outage management features. An electronic meter with AMR reads billing information, performs meter diagnostics and automatically communicates that information wirelessly or over existing power lines back to the utility. Through frequent, accurate readings, AMR eliminates meter reading based on estimates and fluctuating customer billing. Consumers can also become more educated when utilities display current rate information either on the meter or in the home. Consumers can also volunteer to have their electricity usage remotely managed by the power company. Utilities would then use AMR to reduce peak loads by remotely adjusting thermostats on high demand systems – such as customers’ heating and cooling units. This in turn reduces a customer’s monthly bill and helps utilities better mange the load on their networks.
Pricing and Availability
The MSP430F47x4 series of MCUs will be available for sampling in June through local TI sales offices. In volume, the devices will start at $7.50 per 1K quantities. TMS320F28x digital signal controllers and Chipcon RF devices are available in volume and start at $3.25 and $0.99, respectively.
TI Enables Innovation with a Broad Range of Controllers
From ultra low power MSP430 and 32-bit general purpose TMS470 ARM7(R)-based MCUs to high performance TMS320C2000(TM) digital signal controllers, TI offers designers the broadest range of embedded control solutions. Designers can also accelerate their design to market by tapping into TI’s complete software and hardware tools, extensive third party offerings and technical support.
About Texas Instruments
Texas Instruments Incorporated provides innovative DSP and analog technologies to meet our customers’ real world signal processing requirements. In addition to Semiconductor, the company includes the Education Technology business. TI is headquartered in Dallas, Texas, and has manufacturing, design or sales operations in more than 25 countries. Texas Instruments is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol TXN.
TMS320C2000 is a trademark of Texas Instruments. ARM7 is a registered trademark of ARM Ltd.