STMicroelectronics, Arkados to develop HomePlug AV system-on-chip

Nov. 3, 2008
November 3, 2008 -- Arkados and STMicroelectronics plan to develop and manufacture a 200-Mbit/sec HomePlug AV wideband powerline modem system-on-chip (SoC).

November 3, 2008 -- Arkados and STMicroelectronics have reached an agreement to develop and manufacture a 200-Mbit/sec HomePlug AV wideband powerline modem system-on-chip (SoC) that the companies predict "will set a new standard for integration, performance, price, and features."

Planned for availability by the middle of next year, the jointly designed HomePlug AV SoC will power applications ranging from Ethernet-to-Powerline bridges to products including as HDTV distribution equipment, digital set-top boxes, IPTV and whole-house audio platforms, networked digital picture frames, surveillance systems – as well as industrial and commercial applications, especially targeting the Smart Grid and Green Energy segments. Components of such systems can employ Powerline communications technology to establish secure connections using the existing electrical wires in a home or building.

According to the companies, the HomePlug AV-based SoC will feature an integrated AFE (analog front end), a variety of built-in interfaces, and a powerful ARM processor. The SoC will offer processing in 65-nm geometry, for savings in both cost and power consumption, while also offering interoperability with the existing base of nearly 20 million HomePlug 1.0 chips, a feature currently not available in competing HomePlug AV devices.

The chip will include support for the Inter PHY Communication Protocol (IPP), currently being defined by the IEEE P1901 Working Group; the chip could also be the first to market compatible with the expected IEEE 1901 industry standard for high-speed powerline communications.

"In working with ST, Arkados has found a truly complementary and mutually beneficial partnership," comments Oleg Logvinov, president and CEO of Arkados. "ST's investment into the design and development of this chip is a validation of both Arkados' vision and the entire powerline communication market. By uniting the best technology and IP blocks from ST, with Arkados' ten-year powerline chip experience and unique application-friendly HomePlug AV implementation, this single device can offer the cost-effective solution that the market needs, both for PHY/MAC-only solutions, and for the more powerful application-processing segments."

"ST is a world leader in developing leading-edge SoC solutions across many diverse applications and bringing them to market quickly," adds Pietro Menniti, general manager, Industrial and Power Conversion division, STMicroelectronics. "The company believes that HomePlug AV is a market with a very high potential, in addition to recognizing the expertise of Arkados in developing cutting-edge powerline communications designs."

The companies maintain that the introduction of the device is also timed to take place to meet the market's needs for communications solutions that help to implement Smart Grid and Green Energy applications. The agreement specifies that both ST and Arkados will market a version of the device specifically targeted at "bridging" applications such as Ethernet-to-Powerline adapters, or other applications where only a MAC/PHY implementation is needed. Arkados will continue to focus on marketing the chip for more full-featured connected media applications such as whole-house audio, IPTV, and segments of the smart-grid market.

The agreement allows Arkados to complete the design and manufacturing of the chip without making the costly investment of taping out a new chip. ST is contributing to the investment for the development and manufacturing for the Arkados-designed chip. In return, ST receives the rights to market the chip through its worldwide distribution network.

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