Texas Instruments offers new smart grid hardware

Texas Instruments introduces new hardware that it hopes will become a part of the nation's grid infrastructure.

Semiconductor giant Texas Instruments announced on Tuesday several new smart grid-related tools that it hopes will become a part of the nation's grid infrastructure.

Among them are a family of 24 new energy meter integrated circuits (the rolls-right-off-the-tongue "MSP430F673x/F672x" family), which it says use less power but offer more functionality and are more precise than their predecessors. Integrated circuits, or ICs for short, are used to monitor and meter energy usage.

Meanwhile, its new CC2538 (they just have a knack for memorable product names, let me tell you) system-on-a-chip promises to support smart appliances with less bulk. The SoC, which uses the popular ZigBee communications protocol, saves manufacturers from the addd cost of a microcontroller or external memory. For smart electricity, gas, and water meters -- or even in-home displays -- that means a smaller physical footprint and perhaps reduced power consumption.

Complementing that is TI's new CC1200 RF transceiver, which supports the 802.15.4g standard for wireless smart utility networks in the sub-1 GHz bands.

Finally, TI said it will support the new power line communication protocol, G3-PLC. The open standard seeks to preserve the interoperability of smart grid infrastructure but upgrade it, allowing for fewer repeaters and concentrators along transmission lines and in transformers, respectively.

It also supports AES-128 cryptography and IPv6 data, and includes several components that help maximize bandwidth utilization, modulation and routing.

All unsightly hardware, yes. But it's the critical stuff that today's smart grid -- and tomorrow's smarter grid -- are made of.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com