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Echelon, Altera Team Up on Power Line Networking Technology for Home Appliance Makers.

ENERGY RESOURCE-14 November 2006-Echelon, Altera Team Up on Power Line Networking Technology for Home Appliance Makers(C)2006 JeraOne -

Echelon Corporation, a controls, smart metering, and energy and environment management company, and Altera Corporation, a system-on-a-programmable-chip (SOPC) developer, today announced new products designed to allow household appliance makers to add power line networking capability to their products.

The announcement was made at CONNECTIONS Europe: Strategies for Digital Living Markets in Berlin, Germany, a leading industry conference for the home control and networking community.

Aimed at manufacturers of products ranging from dishwashers, refrigerators, ovens and microwave ovens, the companies have collaborated on an off-the-shelf solution that combines Altera Corporation's 32 bit Nios II family of embedded processors for Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) with a specially programmed Echelon power line smart transceiver.

Together, the solution enables appliance and other home device manufacturers to easily add "no new wires" networking and advanced energy and control applications to their products while reducing product cost and time to market.

Products can also now offer new services, such as active energy management that allows appliances to use utility supplied rate tables to determine if it turns on and at what level; energy balancing where an appliance can monitor the energy consumption of an entire home to determine its operating model; and automatic notification of remote service centers when an appliance begins to function improperly but before it ceases to work.

"With over 15,000 development kits sold worldwide and used by each of the world's top 20 home appliance OEMs, the Nios II family of embedded processors are the most popular configurable soft processors available today," said Michael Samuelian, director of the industrial business unit at Altera.

"By implementing soft core processing in an FPGA, manufacturers can create custom integrated circuits (IC) in less than half the time and cost of alternative IC technologies," said Samuelian. "The combination of the Nios II family and Echelon's power line smart transceiver products is a great boon to the home automation market -- finally providing manufacturers with very high processing power, extreme flexibility in design, and the market leading standard in home control."

"The home control market has seen many fits and starts in the past, waiting for the right mix of ingredients to get it started. We believe that combining Altera's FPGA and embedded processor technology and the LonWorks platform will be one of those ingredients in kick-starting this market," noted Ken Oshman, Echelon's chairman and CEO. "We're very pleased to work with Altera to offer this powerful solution to the market."

The Nios II family of embedded processors consists of three processor cores that implement a common instruction set architecture, each optimized for a specific price/performance point, and all supported by the same software tool chain. Developers can build processor systems for under $1.00 when implementing the smallest member of the Nios II processor family in a low-cost Cyclone II FPGA family.

Echelon's family of LonWorks power line smart transceivers provide low-cost, high-performance implementations of the EIA-709 control networking and power line communications standards. When programmed with Echelon's ShortStack 2.0 firmware, and interfaced to a Nios II processor, they enable manufacturers to create robust, full-featured, networked home control products, Echelon said.

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Publication:Energy Resource
Date:Nov 14, 2006
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