PRIME (PoweRline Intelligent Metering Evolution) is one of the major powerline standards which is open, royalty-free and nonproprietary ensuring interoperability among equipment. It targets advanced meter management, grid control and asset monitoring applications and has achieved a very good maturity level to date with many millions of devices already installed in the field.
Version 1.4 of the PRIME standard introduced several optimizations on various levels, e.g., the robust modes which ensure communication even in low signal-to-noise level circumstances and harsh network environments. In a nutshell, this is achieved by adding symbol redundancy in combination with more robust headers and longer preambles. Figure 1 shows the comparison of PHY frames Type A (PRIME 1.3.6) and Type B (PRIME 1.4)
Figure 1. PHY frame Type A (top) vs. frame Type B (bottom)
In addition, the new version has extended the frequency bands to up to 500kHz in order to further increase robustness as well as to increase the data rate.
These changes are in line with adaptations and modifications in the Media Access Control (MAC) layer which supports backward compatibility in order to allow nodes to operate in existing PRIME 1.3.6 networks. This is relevant for a seamless transition of networks to the latest technology after a defined product lifespan.
A further, and more fundamental, modification to the specification is the security profiles which are an essential part of the specification, as they ensure confidentiality, authenticity and integrity of data as well as protection against reply attacks through a secure connection and key management policy.
Whilst Renesas already had a certified PRIME 1.4 solution based on CPX3 (Power Line Communication (PLC) Solutions) it has recertified the solution to be the first vendor to date, who can offer a PRIME 1.4 certificate with security profiles (SP0, SP1, SP2) as well as the first vendor to offer a PRIME 1.4 certificate with backward compatibility.