Wireless Applications

Greenpeak Launches Emerald GP500C Communications Controller

June 12, 2008

The IEEE 802.15.4–compliant transceiver-centric chip enables energy-harvesting solutions for wireless sensor networks, delivering maintenance-free operation.

Utrecht, The Netherlands -- GreenPeak Technologies, a leader in battery-free and therefore maintenance-free communications technology for wireless sense and control applications, announced the Emerald GP500C communications controller chip for ultra-low-power wireless sensor networks.

The Emerald GP500C is the "only IEEE 802.15.4–compliant chip available today with low-power features that enable energy-harvesting solutions for wireless sensor networks. GP500C-driven networks powered by energy harvesting bring true maintenance-free operation.

The Emerald GP500C is a standards-compliant communications controller that incorporates a transceiver with a fully integrated communications layer and an on-chip energy manager. Unlike other solutions on the market, the Emerald GP500C is an "autonomous transceiver" able to drive and control the data communications instead of being driven by a microcontroller. By greatly reducing energy consumption, the groundbreaking architectural concept enables end nodes to run on energy-harvesting devices and to be truly wireless, free of power cords and batteries.

Cees Links, CEO of GreenPeak, said: "Ultra-low power consumption in wireless sensor networks is the determining precondition needed for mass market adoption: it enables battery-free and therefore maintenance-free and truly green wireless sensor networks. Beyond that, the GP500C is a low-cost solution that enables manufacturers to provide standard-compliant two-way communications for remote wireless light switching and dimming, HVAC control, access control, and automated metering." Links continued, "The key for sense and control networks is reliable communications without creating a maintenance burden. This is what customers have repeatedly told us."

Roy Freeland, Chief Executive of Perpetuum Ltd, a world leader in vibration energy-harvesting adds, "Energy harvesting is the preferred solution for powering wireless sensing, and this new ultra-low-power GreenPeak communications controller chip is an important step in developing the enormous potential of this technology."

In addition to being best in class for energy consumption, GreenPeak's radio creates superior reliable communications over a significant indoor range (30–50 m, 100–150 ft.) because it uses embedded hardware-based antenna diversity that reduces dead spots. Furthermore, the Emerald includes other link-reliability features, such as message-over-message enabling, excellent sensitivity, a robust signal-processing engine, and interference-detection and -avoidance mechanisms.

Designs using the Emerald GP500C communications controller are IEEE 802.15.4 compliant. Developers have the option to use GreenPeak's ultra-low-power networking protocol, which reaches beyond standard implementations while maintaining standard compliance.

The Emerald GP500C only consumes 10%–25% of the energy of traditional microcontroller-based designs (depending on the usage profile) by using a lower peak current, an ultra-low-leakage current, and short transmission times via just-in-time transmission scheduling. The GP500C's low energy consumption allows developers to build sensor systems with a peak current of about 20 mA (two times lower than typical) and a system sleep mode of below 100 nA (10 times less than typical) without compromising the network reliability.

The Emerald GP500C is delivered with a reference design and development kit that allows OEMs to build their own communications modules and applications. The GP500C will also support a wide range of software stacks that can run on different processors, including ZigBee Pro, Low Power Routing, Low Power Sensing (robust communication under intermittent power availability), a micro stack, and other application-dedicated low-power protocols. In addition, because the GP500C is an integrated solution, all key functions and features are integrated, and minimal external components are required. The total system bill of material will be lower and makes the GP500C "best in class for total system cost," allowing for the opening of mass markets for maintenance-free sense and control applications.

About GreenPeak
GreenPeak Technologies is a leader in battery-free communication technology for wireless sense and control applications. This revolutionary technology, based on the IEEE 802.15.4/ZigBee wireless networking standard, uses energy harvesting to facilitate battery-free operation in a totally wireless environment, without the need for either communications or power connectivity. GreenPeak is based in Utrecht, The Netherlands, and has offices in Zele, Belgium; Tokyo, Japan; and Austin, TX, USA. GreenPeak is backed by venture capitalists: DJF Esprit (U.K.), GIMV (Belgium), Motorola Ventures (U.S.), and Allegro Investment Fund (Belgium).

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