First certified chipset for G3-PLC hybrid powerline and wireless comms

New Products |
By Nick Flaherty

STMicroelectronics has certified a hybrid chipset for the G3-PLC Hybrid communication standard that defines seamless connectivity over powerline and wireless media.

The G3-PLC Hybrid specification allows smart-grid, smart-city, industrial, and IoT equipment to select the best available wireless or powerline channel at any time, automatically and dynamically, according to network conditions.

The hybrid design combines the ST8500 and S2-LP ultra-low-power sub-GHz radio transceiver that supports the 6LowPAN and IPv6 protocols. ST first demonstrated the hybrid chipset at a G3-PLC Alliance interoperability plugfest in 2020 and is the first to complete the latest G3-PLC certification scheme, published in March 2021.

The certified chipset combines the ST8500 programmable multi-protocol powerline communication system-on-chip (SoC) and STLD1 line driver with the S2-LP. The SoC’s programmability enables a software-defined implementation capable of supporting a broad portfolio of powerline protocol stacks, in worldwide frequency bands such as CENELEC and FCC.

The ST8500 powerline communication SoC platform is widely used in smart-metering smart industrial and infrastructure applications. The Hybrid design is being used by key stakeholders in the smart-grid market and ST’s hardware and firmware solution has been selected to power the official G3-PLC Alliance RF certification-testing equipment.

With a native G3-PLC protocol stack, the ST8500 SoC consumes less than 100mW in receive mode, ensuring ultra-low-power performance in line with the latest specifications to minimize the grid load imposed by new smart meters. It combines an ARM Cortex-M4F core for upper-layer processing and system management with a separate digital signal processing core, each with separate code and data SRAM on-chip. Peripherals include a 128/256-bit AES cryptographic engine for security. The Analog Front End (AFE) for connecting to the STLD1 line driver is also integrated. This line driver communicates reliably, even across noisy power cables and with low impedance, with high drive capability and high linearity.

The S2-LP wireless transceiver operates in both the license-free ISM and SRD frequency bands at 433, 512, 868, and 920 MHz, and can be programmed to operate at additional frequencies in the 413-479 MHz, 452-527 MHz, 826-958 MHz, and 904-1055 MHz bands. The transceiver allows an RF-link budget greater than 140dB for long communication ranges and meets radio-equipment regulations in territories worldwide including Europe, North America, China, and Japan. ST provides companion integrated balun/filter chips for the S2-LP that simplify antenna-connection circuitry and saves PCB area.

The ST8500 SoC is packaged as a 7mm x 7mm x 1mm QFN56. The STLD1 and S2-LP are each packaged as 4mm x 4mm x 1mm QFN24. All devices are in full production.

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