Freescale Launches Microcontrollers for Smart Meters

May 25, 2010

The embedded leader introduces electricity, water, and gas metering technology to help detect fraud, save energy and reduce costs.

BEIJING, China -- Freescale Semiconductor introduced three advanced microcontroller (MCU) solutions targeting electricity and flow meters along with comprehensive smart-meter reference design solutions. Freescale's microcontrollers enable smart meters to be designed with tamper detection mechanisms and real time usage monitoring, providing customers an extra layer of security for their smart meter products.

Smart metering continues to gain momentum as the world's leading economies overhaul outdated power grids and build out a smart grid. Smart metering products enable two-way communication with the utility companies and the consumer to eliminate waste, optimize power and encourage dramatic decreases in energy consumption.

"Our goal is to provide developers with comprehensive plug-and-play solutions designed to alleviate cost and time-to-market concerns, while bringing everyone a step closer to a unified smart grid," said Jeff Bock, director of product marketing for Industrial and Multi-Market microcontrollers at Freescale. "Freescale's smart energy technologies address smart metering and smart grid applications across the grid, enabling customers worldwide to provide secure, next-generation energy management solutions."

The advanced Freescale devices have several key functions combined on one chip, which until now has been unavailable in a single solution. Thanks to the real-time clock (RTC) on Freescale's metering solutions, utility companies may be able to implement different tariffs depending on time of the day, maximum demand and load availability. In addition, the RTC has tamper detection mechanisms to detect fraud and send a trigger or error notice to the utility company when tampering is detected. It can also run separately with its own battery power supply in the event of a main power failure, which adds an additional layer of security in case tampering occurs during a power outage. Two separate blocks of flash memory allow a meter to continue operating on one flash bank while the other is being updated with new firmware, avoiding costly downtime.

Smart meters provide an economical way to measure energy consumption, base real-time pricing on demand and minimize energy consumption during peak loads, reducing the need to build additional generation capacity. According to ABI Research, about 212 million smart electricity meters will be installed worldwide by 2015—an increase of approximately 130 million in just five years. Governments are rapidly implementing policies and programs to speed the deployment of smart metering systems in homes and offices worldwide.

Freescale's smart meter product highlights
Solutions for polyphase electricity meters using the MCF51EM256:

  • Features a 32-bit ColdFire V1 MCU core with multiply accumulate unit
  • Includes a poly-phase software and hardware reference design for U.S. 110 V and EMEA/ASIA 234 V
  • Pre-certified toward popular standards such as International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC)
  • Four integrated 16-bit SAR ADC modules and a programmable delay block for phase error compensation enable 3-phase energy measurement
  • Independent real time clock with calendaring and tamper detection capability
  • Flexible LCD controller can run in ultra-low power modes, and support up to 288 segments

Solutions for low-cost single phase electricity meters and energy monitoring using the MC9S08LH64

  • Features the 8-bit S08 core
  • Low cost single-phase power meter solution with flexible, low-power integrated LCD driver
  • Embedded ultra low power oscillator allows accurate time base in low power modes
  • Integrated 16-bit SAR ADC can drive a low-cost energy measurement or be used for energy monitoring
  • Cost-optimized single phase electricity meter reference design available on request

Solutions for single phase electricity, gas and water flow meters using the MC9S08GW64

  • Features the 8-bit S08 core
  • Integrated gas and water metering pulse counter provides automatic sensor decoding and flow management while the product is in stop mode, critical for flow meter applications
  • Electricity metering analog front end with two independent 16-bit SAR ADCs and a programmable delay block for phase error compensation
  • Multiple reference hardware and software reference designs in development, including a single-phase electricity meter with integrated AFE, as well as gas and water flow meter reference design.

Freescale plans to announce a series of metering solutions later this year that fit into different points along the smart grid.

Freescale's MCF51EM256 device for single and three-phase electricity meters are available now for suggested resale pricing of $3.97 (USD) for quantities of 10,000 units. The MC9S08LH64 devices are available for suggested resale pricing of $2.79 (USD) for quantities of 10,000 units. General availability of the MC9S08GW64 products will be announced later this year.

Development Tools
Freescale offers best-in-class hardware and software development tools for smart meter applications to help reduce development cost, ease design complexity and speed time to market. Online training, videos, webcasts, technical documentation and application notes available at www.freescale.com/coldfire, www.freescale.com/metering and www.freescale.com/mqx.

About Freescale Semiconductor
Freescale Semiconductor is a global leader in the design and manufacture of embedded semiconductors for the automotive, consumer, industrial and networking markets. The privately held company is based in Austin, TX, and has design, research and development, manufacturing or sales operations around the world.

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