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US firm supplies new smart meter tech to China

Houston-based company Silicon Labs is providing its home-energy management technology to China to help put it on a path to more ecological power distribution

One of the world's fastest-growing smart metering markets, China is rapidly upgrading its power grid to a "greener" smart grid

A high-performance, ultra-low-power wireless transceiver designed to maximise China's rapidly growing smart metering market has been introduced by US company, Silicon Labs.

The Si4438 EZRadioPRO(R) IC is designed to make best use of wireless range and battery life while reducing bill of materials (BOM) cost by 30 per cent for smart meters.

Designed for the 425-525 MHz ISM band, the Si4438 transceiver also provides a sub-GHz wireless solution for in-home energy management systems and other smart grid infrastructure applications such as long-range back-haul communications to utilities.

One of the world's fastest-growing smart metering markets, China is rapidly upgrading its power grid to a "greener" smart grid, and smart meters for residences and businesses are key elements of this grid transformation.

According to a new report by Pike Research, the installed base of smart meters in China will grow from 139 million units in 2012 to 377 million units by 2020. Smart meter market penetration in China will also reach 74 per cent by 2020.

Silicon Labs engineered the Si4438 transceiver to meet the performance, energy efficiency, system cost and regulatory requirements of smart meters operating in the 470-510 MHz band in China.

Featuring an efficient on-chip power amplifier (PA), the Si4438 IC provides extended range and robust communication links for smart metering by leveraging best-in-class specifications in transmit output power (+20 dBm), sensitivity (-124 dBm), link budget (144 dB) and adjacent channel rejection (58 dB). Built-in antenna diversity and support for frequency hopping further extends range and enhances wireless performance.

Tightly integrated into the Si4438 transceiver, antenna diversity can improve the system link budget by 8-10 dB, resulting in substantial range increases even under adverse environmental conditions.