Renesas Electronics Announces New 16-Bit Microcontrollers with Power Line Communication Functions Enabling Industry-Leading Fast Data Transfer

Realizes Compact System Development with Enhanced Performance for Smart Meters, Lighting Fixtures, and Electric Household Appliances

04 Aug 2011

TOKYO, Japan, August 4, 2011 — Renesas Electronics Corporation (TSE: 6723), a premier provider of advanced semiconductor solutions, today announced the M16C/6S1 Group of 16-bit microcontrollers (MCUs) with built-in power line communication (PLC) functions enabling data-transfer speeds among the fastest in the industry in the low-frequency band (10 kilohertz [kHz] to 450 kHz). The M16C/6S1 MCUs are suitable for applications such as smart meters, lighting fixtures, and electric household appliances equipped with data communication capabilities essential for visualization of energy usage such as electrical power and quantitative evaluation.

 

Recently, demand has grown for smart meters, which form the core of smart power grids, capable of realizing an advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) for reducing the peak power requirements of lighting fixtures, electric household appliances, and so forth in addition to conventional automated meter reading (AMR). This has led to calls for MCUs with on-chip communication control functions offering improved performance. One communication capability for smart meters that is attracting attention is power line communication (PLC), which makes it possible to transfer data over existing power lines and eliminates the need to install new cables. At the same time, there is strong demand for high-speed data communication, more compactness, and reduced system cost.

Renesas Electronics already mass produces the M16C/6S Group of MCUs that combines a PLC modem and an MCU on a single chip. Now the new M16C/6S1 Group provides substantially faster communication speeds and on-chip implementation of functionality that previously required connection of an external device, allowing still further reduction of the overall system size.

 

Key features of the M16C/6S1 Group of MCUs

  • (1) Industry-leading fast data transfer speeds in the low-frequency band (10 kHz to 450 kHz)

    The M16C/6S1 MCUs integrate a newly developed IT900 (DCSK-Turbo) spread spectrum modulation modem core from Yitran Communications, a leader in power line communications. This enables data transfer speeds to be delivered in the low-frequency band (10 kHz to 450 kHz) that are approximately 60 times faster than those achieved by Renesas Electronics' existing M16C/6S MCUs.

     

    As detailed below, these speeds are among the fastest in the industry. (All figures are with anti-noise measures applied.)

     

    • The maximum data communication speed in the frequency bands stipulated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC, Note 1) in the USA and the Association of Radio Industries and Businesses (ARIB, Note 2) in Japan is 500 Kb/second.
    • The maximum data communication speed in the CENELEC-A in Europe (Note 3) band is 150 Kb/second.
    • The maximum MAC payload speed under FCC and ARIB standards (using a communication packet length of 1,760 data bytes) is 300 Kb/second.

     

    These speeds make the M16C/6S1 Group of MCUs ideal for use in smart meters with advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) capabilities, which enable smart meters to reduce the peak power usage of lighting fixtures and electric household appliances.

     

    The M16C/6S1 MCUs also incorporate as PLC modem cores, both the IT700, a conventional differential code shift keying (DCSK) core, and the IT900, which employs a newer system, thereby ensuring communication compatibility with existing M16C/6S MCUs.

     

  • (2) Up to 256 KB of large-capacity, on-chip flash memory

    The M16C/6S1 Group of MCUs incorporates up to 256 kilobytes (KB) of built-in flash memory, approximately four times the flash memory capacity of the company's existing M16C/6S MCUs, making it possible to accommodate the addition of application programs for handling larger networks (including AMI support). There is also 8 KB of on-chip data flash (Note 4) for storing data, eliminating the need to connect external EEPROM. Finally, the RAM capacity has been expanded to approximately 1.3 times that of comparable earlier Renesas Electronics products.

     

  • (3) On-chip analog signal processing block (analog front-end)

    The analog front-end, which comprises elements such as a driver amplifier circuit, band-pass filter, and 10-bit ADC, and which has to be connected to the existing M16C/6S MCU as an external device, is now integrated into a single chip with the new MCUs. This reduces the mounting area on the printed wiring board by about 20 percent, contributing to greater compactness and reduced system cost.

The M16C/6S1 MCUs are available in four product versions with different combinations of flash memory and RAM sizes. Tools such as data link layer (DLL) software and evaluation boards will be made available as an evaluation environment.

 

Refer to the separate sheet for the main specifications of the M16C/6S1 Group of MCUs.

 

(Note 1) The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is responsible for regulating communication in the various states of the United States of America and for regulating international communication between the USA and other countries. It is the governmental body that regulates and approves communication and broadcasting in the USA

(Note 2) The Association of Radio Industries and Businesses (ARIB) is designated by the Prime Minister of Japan as the “Center for the Promotion of Efficient Use of the Radio Spectrum” and “Designated Frequency Change Support Agency.” It performs investigation and R&D on the use of the airwaves for communication and broadcasting, and establishes standards for systems that utilize the airwaves. .

(Note 3) CENELEC (Comité Européen de Normalisation Electrotechnique) is the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization. It is responsible for establishing unified standards for electrical and electronics technology in the EU that are given the status of EN (European Norm).

(Note 4) Data flash is a feature exclusive to Renesas Electronics in which an area of flash memory is set aside for storing data that normally would be stored in external electrically erasable and programmable read-only memory (EEPROM).

Pricing and Availability

Samples of Renesas Electronics' M16C/6S1 Group of MCUs are available now, priced at US$15 per unit. Mass production is scheduled to begin in October 2011 and is projected to reach a scale of 200,000 units per month by October 2012.
(Pricing and availability are subject to change without notice.)

 

(Remarks)

All other registered trademarks or trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

About Renesas Electronics Corporation

Renesas Electronics Corporation (TSE: 6723) delivers trusted embedded design innovation with complete semiconductor solutions that enable billions of connected, intelligent devices to enhance the way people work and live. A global leader in microcontrollers, analog, power, and SoC products, Renesas provides comprehensive solutions for a broad range of automotive, industrial, home electronics, office automation, and information communication technology applications that help shape a limitless future. Learn more at renesas.com.


The content in the press release, including, but not limited to, product prices and specifications, is based on the information as of the date indicated on the document, but may be subject to change without prior notice.