SANTA CLARA, USA: Atheros Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ: ATHR), a global leader in innovative technologies for wireless and wired communications, has executed an agreement with the US Department of Energy (DoE) under which it will receive up to $4.5 million in grant funding to develop powerline chips designed to provide two-way data communications over existing AC wiring, a vital element for Smart Grid applications.
The chips – based on the Green PHY specification now approved and published by the HomePlug Powerline Alliance – will meet the low-power, high-reliability requirements of the utilities industry and comply with the IEEE 1901 global networking standard.
Two-way data communications among smart meters and in-home systems and appliances (such as air conditioning, water heaters, pool pumps, and washers and dryers) over powerline-based Home Area Networks allows home owners to monitor and control their electricity consumption and take advantage of “time-of-day” pricing incentives to lower energy costs.
Atheros’ Green PHY-based powerline technology also enables utilities to better manage the overall electric grid for increased reliability and efficiency through new capabilities such as load shaping, demand response, distributed generation and fault location and isolation.
* The grant is made under the US Smart Grid Investment Grant (SGIG) program, a national program established to accelerate the manufacture, purchase and installation of existing and emergent Smart Grid technologies; especially those that can be applied in innovative ways within the existing electricity delivery system to provide integrated and economically-feasible solutions. Atheros, the industry leader in powerline technology, is the only semiconductor company chosen to receive SGIG funding.
* Atheros will match the initial $4.5 million investment to develop the industry’s first HomePlug Green PHY-based chip. The solution will feature dramatically lower power consumption (75% power reduction over current HomePlug AV solutions), robust coverage, and the extended temperature range needed for outdoor meters. With scalable data rates from 250 Kbps to 10 Mbps, the Atheros chip will enable communications across existing electrical wiring including 120/240 VAC or 24 VAC low-voltage wiring to thermostats.
* Atheros was the first to introduce HomePlug powerline solutions with the extended temperature range necessary for outdoor temperature extremes faced by smart meters. Atheros’ powerline technology is now used in several brands of deployed smart meters and is in design in a variety of new meters. Atheros has developed UART serial communications interfaces for its current HomePlug devices and a PL10 UART Smart Grid Enablement Kit to allow Green PHY prototype testing by companies designing smart meters, smart appliances, programmable communicating thermostats, electric vehicle and charging stations, ZigBee bridges, remote metering devices, solar panels and other energy-related applications.
* Atheros is a key contributor to HomePlug’s Green PHY specification, which becomes an integral part of an ecosystem of interoperable powerline technologies built upon the widely deployed HomePlug AV and IEEE 1901 global standards. This ecosystem will enable communications between the home’s Smart Grid-enabled systems and appliances and the home’s digital network, enabling a host of new applications for the consumer as well as utility companies.