You know a market is hot when multiple IC companies release platforms for the same market nearly simultaneously. Such is the case with Maxim Integrated (sponsor of the Integrated Nation site) and STMicroelectronics (STMicro). Both recently launched system on chips (SoCs) or SoC-based platforms for the smart metering market and other smart grid applications.
Both product lines include significant integration, including analog and mixed signal, to provide more functionality useful in metering and power monitoring applications.
Maxim recently released the Capistrano reference platform for smart meters and other smart grid applications. In its press release, Maxim cited some highlights of the platform, including 0.1 percent accuracy over an 8000:1 current range, an integrated application processor, a dedicated security co-processor, another microcontroller for metering, and a front end with digital signal processing (DSP) for metering. Here's a block diagram of the Maxim platform, including the Zeus SoC.
Maxim Capistrano Smart Metering Reference platform. In the blue box are the functions integrated into the SoC that is the heart of the platform.
I reached out to Timery Crawford, corporate communications manager at Maxim, to get a few more details. She told me there are up to seven ADCs, which are "typically targeted for energy consumption measurement, [although] they could be purposed for other measurements." She also stressed the high level of integration, which includes the ARM M3, a 32-bit RISC processor in the metering section, and a 32-bit DSP core doing raw measurement processing. All of these are part of the Zeus chip. The figure below shows the reference platform, which provides the designs to integrate display, control (such as PLC), communication, and sensors into the complete system.
Maxim Integrated's Capistrano reference platform for smart metering.