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STMicroelectronics’ STarGRID™ Power-Line Communication Chip Used in Smart-Metering ‘STAR Project’ in Spain

ST’s smart-metering System-on-Chip platform offers high flexibility to meet differing technical requirements and standards worldwide

Geneva /

STMicroelectronics (NYSE: STM), one of the world’s leading semiconductor manufacturers and the number one supplier worldwide of power management solutions, today announced that its new STarGRID™ ST7590  power-line communication (PLC) System-on-Chip (SoC) is being used in advanced Automatic Meter Management (AMM) equipment in the new ‘STAR Project’ in Spain.

Based on the PRIME (PoweRline Intelligent Metering Evolution) standard, the ‘STAR Project’ is the advanced metering infrastructure program from the IBERDROLA utility company. By early 2011, approximately 100,000 PRIME-compliant smart meters will have been being installed by IBERDOLA in the city of Castellon in Spain in the first deployment. More than 10 million are expected to be deployed over the next few years in Spain. The AMM equipment that employs ST’s STarGRID  ST7590 SoC has passed all PRIME-compliancy certification tests, performed by KEMA, the international certification body.

The ST7590 SoC is the latest device in ST’s STarGRID family, which offers a flexible, scalable and future-proof power-line communication platform that can be easily adapted to different smart-grid application needs and protocol standards. In addition, the platform optimizes power consumption and system cost significantly more effectively than solutions based on multi-purpose stand-alone DSPs which require additional external Analog Front End and Power Line Driver components.

“Being selected as the silicon technology provider for the STAR Project in Spain is a significant testament to ST’s leading-edge know-how in this field,” said Pietro Menniti, VP and General Manager, Industrial Power Conversion Division, STMicroelectronics. “STarGrid is a breakthrough in power-line communication technology that offers a flexible System-on-Chip platform meeting major worldwide smart-metering and smart-grid standards. The high level of integration and flexibility of STarGRID allows key customers to simplify their product designs and significantly reduce bill-of-materials costs.”

Further technical information on the STarGRID ST7590
Built using ST’s advanced BCD8 smart power technology, STarGRID allows the integration of an optimized DSP engine for different modulation schemes and physical layer services management, a digital 8-bit industrial microcontroller core for system supervising and protocol stack management, the full receiving and transmitting analog front end and an integrated power amplifier with on-board programmable filtering, capable of more than 1A (RMS) of current to drive very low impedances loads.

The optional integration of specific functions such as a dedicated hardware accelerator for 128-bit AES data encryption management, a built-in channel quality estimation feature based on signal-to-noise and line impedance measurements, and other critical functions increases system performance and capabilities, while the integration of full analog-front-end and high linear power-amplifier blocks reduces both the system bill of material and the customer development effort.

The high-performing ST7590 exploits very robust OFDM modulation up to 128kbps, fully compliant with PRIME protocol standard specifications. The STarGRID platform also includes the ST758x family, which performs innovative dual-channel communication with n-PSK modulation schemes up to 28.8kbps and it is suitable for different protocol implementations, such as the ‘Meters & More’ specification, which has been adopted  by the ENEL group for the recent ENDESA multi-million metering project in Spain.

The STarGRID platform also includes the ST7570, which performs an S-FSK modulation up to 2.4 kbps and integrates a full turn-key IEC 61334-5-1 compliant protocol stack with new advanced communication features to address standard automatic meter-reading services and other command and control applications, such as some street-lighting control and sub-metering systems requiring a very cost effective implementation and consolidated standard protocol compliancy.

All STarGRID products feature pin-to-pin compatible 7x7mm small-footprint QFN48 package options to ease customer-development efforts, particularly where multiple applications and standards need to be addressed, while maintaining a highly optimized and specialized solution for each application.

About KEMA
KEMA, established in 1927, is an independent knowledge leader and a global provider of high-quality services to the energy value chain, including business & technical consultancy, operational support, measurements & inspection, and testing & certification. KEMA provides impartial advice and support to producers, suppliers and end users of energy, as well as to governmental bodies. In addition, KEMA certifies products, systems and individuals for a wide range of clients. KEMA is the leading organization for testing smart meter and smart grid communication implementations. In Spain, KEMA is offering a wide range of energy consultancy services including the state-of-the-art facility in order to perform PRIME testing. Further information on KEMA can be found at: http://www.kema.com

About PRIME
PRIME (PoweRline Intelligent Metering Evolution) is a Physical and Mac layer standard definition based on up-to-date technologies, in order to guarantee that future market requirements are met and that utilities’ investments are future proof. PRIME is open, looking for different vendors’ equipment interoperability, as a way to push for the growth of a new market so, that at the end of the day, all players (utilities, industry, customers, etc) will benefit from this approach. PRIME is based on OFDM multiplexing in CENELEC-A band. Further information on PRIME can be found at: www.prime-alliance.org

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About STMicroelectronics
STMicroelectronics is a global leader serving customers across the spectrum of electronics applications with innovative semiconductor solutions. ST aims to be the undisputed leader in multimedia convergence and power applications leveraging its vast array of technologies, design expertise and combination of intellectual property portfolio, strategic partnerships and manufacturing strength. In 2009, the Company's net revenues were $8.51 billion. Further information on ST can be found at www.st.com.
Information last updated Jan 2010

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