New single-chip micro-inverter from Semitech enables IoT Applications

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Semitech Semiconductor, a provider of narrowband power line communication (N-PLC) solutions that enable the transformation of the electricity grid into a smart grid, has announced its new SM2480. A single-chip, grid-connected signal controller, the SM2480 is ideal for solar inverters, smart lighting LED ballasts, home and building automation and other SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition), and grid-connected applications.

The SM2480 integrates standards-based universal N-PLC with analog signal monitoring, control functions and peripherals — making it the first chip in the world to offer all of the functions required for grid-connected micro inverter implementation. Integrating the connectivity function with the control functions significantly reduces the cost of a solar micro-inverter design, enabling a cost effective, power efficient and smaller system architecture, which is critical for the mass deployment of micro-inverter-based solar systems and smart ballasts.

Micro-inverters and smart street lighting controllers are key to more efficient energy generation and usage and have become increasingly important components of the smart grid. Despite their many advantages, the market has been slow to adopt micro-inverters, primarily due to cost concerns. A single-chip micro-inverter provides a complete platform to implement all of the functions in both the control and the communication paths, enabling significant cost improvement and system simplification.

“Single-chip micro-inverters approach cost parity with the less efficient, but more cost-effective, string inverter based systems,” noted Zeev Collin, CEO of Semitech. “This is increasingly important as communication requirements of future grid-connected power assets further drive up design complexity and cost. Semitech’s single-chip micro-inverter includes worldwide standards-based communication intrinsic to the design – simplifying the design process.”

The SM2480 is a member of Semitech’s SM24xx family that leverages the same architecture and expands the communication capabilities of the SM2400 N-PLC modem to a fully-integrated analog & PWM controller with grid connectivity. As with all devices in the SM24xx family, the SM2480 features a dual-core architecture. Dedicating one core to the system control application and a second core to guarantee superior communication performance, the SM2480 maintains flexibility and programmability for OFDM-based standards and extremely robust proprietary communication schemes specifically tailored for industrial applications. Both cores are supported by full development systems to facilitate the implementation of proprietary application-specific control and monitoring algorithms.

Features include:

  • Dual-core 32 bit architecture
  • High speed PWM with 6 channels of outputs with programmable pairing modes and independent settings
  • 4 comparators with independent references and programmable fault detection
  • Dual-signal monitoring ADC with 8x input multiplexing and simultaneous sampling of voltage/current pairs
  • High-performing custom N-PLC DSP engine with embedded turnkey firmware

The SM2480 comes with a reference design (both hardware and firmware) implementing a micro-inverter and a user friendly PC based Graphic User Interface for real-time monitoring of the performance over N-PLC. The reference design includes a number of firmware options implementing various N-PLC schemes, such as IEEE 1901.2, PRIME, G3-PLC, and other special modes tailored for SCADA and smart grid applications. The chip is now sampling, with production to commence later this year.

For more information, visit www.semitechsemi.com.

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