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Game Plans Plural: Q&A with ARM IoT Solutions Manager Aniriuddha Deodhar

Wednesday, May 17th, 2017

The author of “Intelligent buildings: For smarter, healthier, more productive people,” a white paper, shares his insights.

Editor’s Note: The Smart Building game plan is not one plan, but many, explained ARM IoT Solutions Manager Aniriuddha Deodhar when he spoke with EECatalog recently. Edited excerpts of our conversation follow.


EECatalog: You authored the white paper Intelligent buildings: For smarter, healthier, more productive people, which puts forward the idea that Smart Building solutions should be “low cost, low maintenance, easy-to-use and highly secure.” What do you see being done correctly right now to make that happen?

Aniruddha Deodhar, IoT Solutions Manager, ARM

Aniruddha Deodhar, IoT Solutions Manager, ARM

Aniruddha Deodhar, ARM: Companies are already thinking about how to reduce their upfront costs by going after devices that have a very small form factor—that reduces the amount of silicon and hence their upfront costs, as well as the amount of energy used for running them.  ARM, of course, has been a leader in energy-efficient devices, and our newly announced Cortex-M processors are ultra-low power to where they may be operated by harvesting energy from the surrounding environment. For example, using temperature differential, ambient light or even simple movements. Coupled with the sophisticated software controlled sleep and deep sleep modes, devices with these processors are able to last for tens of years.

And when you have cloud services to securely on-board, and provision devices, maintain them throughout their lifecycle, and update the firmware over the air, you don’t need to send people around to fix or update them (e.g. a security patch). That reduces maintenance costs as well. What’s more, development costs shrink because now you have devices that are embedded with TrustZone security that is hardware-enabled. So, you are quickly able to start off on an IoT development platform.

A number of ARM partners have showcased reference architectures such as what I’ve just described.  For example, STMicroelectronics recently showcased LoRA reference architecture with ARM processor based sensors and gateways, by essentially bolting together sensors, gateways and applications in the cloud.

EECatalog: What are the barriers involved in accelerating the implementation of smart buildings?

Deodhar, ARM: While we all need to work towards making IoT essentially plug-and-play, many of the barriers are not technology barriers. The problems that crop up are such things as contractual problems related to split incentives, and those related to facilities management contractors being incented on time and material and thus less motivated to implement projects that reduce their work. Other barriers are related to complex financing mechanisms with stringent payback requirements. Those types of concerns must be solved, but it’s already possible to deploy newer technologies that convey the benefits of security and lower cost, for example.  This is something they can do very easily.

EECatalog: ‘Smart Buildings’ is not something one can talk about as just one homogeneous thing, is it?

Deodhar, ARM: No. For example, while bigger buildings such as the archetypical office buildings found in downtown areas are retrofitting rapidly, the small- and medium-size buildings (which account for 98 percent of the buildings) are still at the early stage of IoT awareness. The technology to meet the demands of small and medium buildings needs to get to the point where ordering and installing an IoT system is as simple as ordering and installing a home router or an Amazon Alexa.  We all need to do a better job of addressing the problem of small- and medium-sized buildings, which don’t necessarily have IT people on board nor the budget or mindshare for solving complex deployments. We want to get to where it is just ‘set it and forget it.’

Developers have the microprocessors and software they need to do this; now they need to work with small- and medium-size building owners and understand what platforms support the business case.  Does the building need security cameras? Is it an office or a retail outlet? Those questions are important because, for example, energy consumption could be a greater concern for a retail outlet than it is for an office.

Those are the kinds of things that need to be done, but there is already a latent demand for retrofitting to make buildings smarter. It comes from building owners who want improve ROI on their real estate investment, reduce OPEX, defer CAPEX and recruit higher-value tenants.  Because employees appreciate smart buildings, improvements to make a building smarter can lead to higher talent retention and reduced absentee-ism—all those benefits are there for the taking.

EECatalog: The different segments within the smart building sector would mean you couldn’t just have one master ‘game plan.’

Deodhar, ARM: There are going to be multiple game plans. And there is another 98 percent figure to think about—98 percent of buildings are existing buildings. Two percent of buildings are new construction, and once they are built, they last 50 to 100 years or more.  About half of the commercial buildings in the US were built before 1980. Most of the buildings we will experience in our lifetime are already built or being constructed now.  Traditional buildings are not going away, so opportunity exists for technology deployers such as ARM, for system integrators, for consultants, for engineers and architects to make existing buildings smarter.

Game plans would vary even among existing buildings.  The requirements for hospitals and mission-critical facilities are not the same as those for offices.  Lowering not just OPEX, but more important, reducing inventory and making sure it is well maintained is especially important for hospitals, factories and warehouses, for example. For some buildings, real estate is core to their business—think Walmart or Starbucks—and such businesses would typically have their own architecture, engineering and construction teams and facilities management.  On the other hand, for a company like ARM, real estate is a means to an end for keeping employees happy and productive.  Businesses who own their buildings have a different game plan than those where one of the challenges could be a landlord who is not incented to have a large CAPEX for the sake of a smart building (this is the infamous split incentive problem).  Developers creating solutions for this market need to ensure they have the right product for the right segment.

EECatalog: What myths or misunderstandings, if any, need to be addressed concerning what is and what isn’t a smart building?

Deodhar, ARM: Just adding devices doesn’t make a building smart.  A smart building is sustainable with regard to the resources—energy; water; gas—but also with consideration for human capital and the way the building communicates to the grid.   A smart building must also be responsive: to outside security threats, to the needs of people inside the building; to what the IoT and operational technology demand. The building should improve the occupant’s health, safety, productivity and security.

You could have a hut or a yurt that is sustainable because it does not have heating or air conditioning, but is not comfortable—or you could have a building in a desert which is heavily sensor’d, but not sustainable. None of them would be considered “smart”.

This is why at ARM we make a point of asking—whether we are developing a project or developing one in conjunction with partners—what problem are we trying to solve? Are we trying to reduce energy consumption? Are we trying to cut operating expenditure by putting production maintenance into place? Are we trying to improve health and safety?

EECatalog: What can the U.S learn from countries outside the U.S. with regard to leveraging the benefits of smart buildings and what can countries outside the U.S. learn from the U.S.?

Deodhar, ARM: What the U.S. could learn from other countries is that climate change is real with real impacts. Sometimes we need to be reminded of that.  Already there have been several state initiatives in states like Massachusetts and California as well as in cities like the energy disclosure ordinances in San Francisco initiatives around funding and the energy disclosure law and so on, but I think more can be done. The UK is the standard bearer in a number of these progressive initiatives around climate change.

The U.S. excels at designing good buildings, but these buildings also need to be operated more efficiently by those using them. In Asia, it is almost the opposite:  I have seen this specifically on the energy side—in Asia the buildings may not be designed very well for energy efficiency or with a thick insulation envelope, but they are operated efficiently because people are used to turning off the lights and air conditioning (which is often not central) when not in use.

The focus on the business model and use case which predominates in the U.S. is helpful because government regulations or dictums or funding alone do not move the market—that can lead to ghost towns or uninhabited buildings or smart building showcase projects that really go nowhere after a few years or, which like the Olympics, are often not profitable.

EECatalog: Does retrofitting typically make economic sense?

Deodhar, ARM: Yes, for example, at ARM’s San Jose, California facility there was a budget for replacing older fluorescent tubes, and we learned that installing smart lighting made not just environmental sense but also ‘dollars and sense’ because for the same cost and reduced OPEX and ease of implementation we could install a smart lighting system rather than just changing lightbulbs.  With the plunging cost of sensors, ease of development, and all the apps that help you keep track of the system, it becomes a no brainer.

ARM is also building a new headquarters at our Cambridge, UK location and [in tandem with] that we’re retrofitting existing buildings with everything from lanyards enabled with location-based tracking—this makes possible services such as letting people know which meeting rooms are occupied and helping cars find parking spaces. The IoT projects we’re weaving in as we construct new buildings and retrofit existing buildings will help lower the total cost of ownership as well as making for a much better experience for employees.

Innovation in Cellular Communications: Making Smart Meters Even Smarter

Tuesday, March 7th, 2017

Here’s what is helping the Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) realize power efficiency, bandwidth and latency benefits.

Smart metering aims to reduce energy consumption and costs, and it brings together a range of disciplines and expertise. Governments, regional regulatory bodies, those in the energy/utilities sectors, system integrators, design houses and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are involved in worldwide deployments of telemetry infrastructure. This is used by utilities in residential, commercial, and industrial scenarios.

Figure 1: More finely tuned network distribution control is one outcome of implementing smart metering by the electricity industry as well as by gas and water utilities.

Figure 1: More finely tuned network distribution control is one outcome of implementing smart metering by the electricity industry as well as by gas and water utilities.

Benefits Beyond the Electric Grid

The smart metering trend started in the electricity industry, initially with traditional walk-by Automated Meter Reading (AMR). This has evolved into the rapidly expanding wider practice of Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI), which can enable features such as dynamic, time-of-use price plans.

Primarily made possible by communication technology innovations, smart metering now extends to gas and water, distribution automation, and new areas of telemetry, such as remote sub-monitoring of Home Area Network (HAN) devices, including Programmable Control Thermostats (PCTs).

The benefits of smart metering for both consumers and utility companies are many: automated billing, profiling of end-user usage data, revenue protection, and a reduction in meter-tampering-related fraud. Innovation is also enabling new, industry-specific features that are transforming the full metering market value chain.

For example, smart metering deployments are the building blocks used by the electricity industry to implement outage management or grid voltage optimization. Water companies are using them to enhance network leakage control, while in the gas sector, they’re enabling the introduction of new methods of distribution.

All these technology enhancements improve the allocation of energy, cut resource wastage, and enable more accurate control of network distribution. This enables utilities to reduce their operational costs; these savings can be passed on to consumers.

ABI Research notes the number of smart meters deployed worldwide by 2020 will reach 780 million for electricity, 150 million for gas, and 90 million for water. It’s an enormous market opportunity. Central to it is the choice of connectivity technology, and this must be pre-determined before implementation, typically respecting national energy regulators’ requirements.

Smart Metering to Industrial IoT

While Power Line Communication (PLC) and various versions of radio frequency (RF) radio communication technologies have historically been used for large-scale metering infrastructures, cellular communication is now the preferred choice for the lion’s share of new deployments.

This is the result of government mandates, which require the use of technology based on specifications from open standards. Utility companies are also increasingly keen to use existing public cellular networks. Doing so reduces CAPEX and OPEX for large-scale roll-outs, because utilities do not need to allocate resources to design, install, operate, and maintain a private network. Instead, they can focus on their core business.
Cellular Open Standards

Cellular open standards bring additional benefits in interoperability, coverage, and capacity, as well as other critical aspects, which are especially pertinent for multiservice utilities.

A good example is utilities’ use of AMI platforms to operate multiple metering applications, such as electricity, gas, and water. The benefits will also be felt in situations where smart metering is paired with other municipal automation and remote monitoring systems, such as waste collection, smart parking services, and other forms of urban and environmental surveillance.

In these cases, using cellular communication makes engineers’ jobs much easier than it would be if they were required to use a more niche or proprietary radio technology. Because cellular is based on open standards, it offers better interoperability between different smart metering devices and multiple OEM suppliers. Cellular technology can therefore help minimize network design complexity and secure quality of service by reducing radio signal collision and interference.

Smart Metering Security

Another important aspect of smart meter design is security. Security is a fast-evolving landscape and the complex IT networks that utilities companies deploy will need to operate for a very long time. Security will therefore require continued attention throughout a network’s lifetime.

“Hey, I don’t believe that any system is totally secure,” says David Lightman (Matthew Broderick) in the 1983 movie WarGames. In the real world, too, it’s not difficult to imagine a catastrophic scenario where smart meters get hacked, especially once millions are deployed and have been operating in the field for many years.

A malfunction or a malicious attack on smart meters’ firmware could result in millions of devices turning off simultaneously, risking massive damage to a large region or to an entire country’s grid. AMI must therefore safeguard security over time, which is why a key requirement of smart meters is that their firmware (the embedded software that controls the smart meter) can be updated over the air (OTA).

Sending an engineer to do this would be both expensive and slow—prohibitively so in a situation where millions of meters need to be upgraded, as could be the case following a security breach. Doing the update wirelessly removes the need for a service engineer to be sent out.

An OTA firmware upgrade is typically hard to achieve in most sub-GHz low-power radio networks, which generally only support downlink rates of a few hundred bytes of information per day to each device.

Conversely, efficient wireless upgrades are possible with Firmware Over The Air (FOTA), a feature used extensively in mobile phones, and now supported in cellular machine-to-machine (M2M) technology. It enables users to update their module firmware over a carrier network.

Cellular Technology in Smart Metering

Because of these inherent benefits, cellular technology is currently enjoying widespread use in smart metering deployments, providing end-to-end connectivity in metering infrastructure. A large share of residential and commercial networks is being deployed using 2G General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) solutions, while industrial smart meters are predominantly based on 3G technology.

Even when utilities deploy point-to-multipoint solutions based on short-range radio protocols (such as wireless M-Bus 169 MHz, or other proprietary Low-Power Wide-Area radio technology), cellular is still used to provide back-haul connectivity from local HAN data concentrators to the utilities’ data management systems.

Cellular is also used in metering communication hubs, the so-called ‘Smart Meter Gateways.’ This is an AMI topology, successfully deployed or planned in many European countries and in Japan, where residential and commercial buildings use cellular to connect electricity meters or separate gateway devices to the utilities’ back-haul meter data management systems. The gateway device is then used to provide connectivity through industrial, scientific, and medical (ISM) wireless RF (Wireless M-Bus 868 in Europe, Wi-SUN 920MHz in Japan and ZigBee) to meters and other systems in the building.

4G LTE Connectivity

Their cost-efficiency and sufficient data speeds mean 2G and 3G connectivity have been commonly used in smart meters globally. However, for future deployments, the utility ecosystem is already transitioning to 4G LTE connectivity.

This shift is being driven by two factors. The first is the product and infrastructure longevity offered by LTE technology, and the second is the introduction of specific versions of the LTE specification, such as Category 1, Category M1, and Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT). These introduce bandwidth, latency, and power consumption performance that are optimized for the use cases of AMI.

Looking Ahead

The availability of proven cellular communications modules can speed time-to-market and enable the creation of innovative solutions in metering markets. Future developments, such as LTE Cat 1, Cat M1 and NB-IoT, promise even more exciting advances and pave the way for the transition from basic smart metering to an era of efficient wireless connectivity among multiple new categories of smart IoT sensors. This will enable those in the utilities industry to rapidly experiment with new business models by making relatively minor investments, compared to the costs and timescales that would be involved traditionally.

u-blox has a full line-up of cellular communication modules that can enable smart metering systems globally. This includes the 2G SARA-G and 3G SARA-U product families used in gas, water, and standalone electricity metering installations, alongside the LARA-R, TOBY-R, and SARA-R series, which support LTE Cat 1 and Cat M1 standards for smart gateway systems.

u-blox is committed to the smart metering market, with an ATEX-certified cellular portfolio and manufacturing based on ISO 16785 to fulfil industry-specific rugged specifications, such as for operation in environments with extreme temperatures, humidity, and vibration. u-blox has also been a thought leader with the introduction of NB-IoT, a technology that improves coverage and signal penetration, while extending the battery life of deployed smart meters. It simplifies the design, operation, and maintenance of smart metering networks and grids, thereby helping reduce the total cost of smart metering roll-outs.

Photo-DiegoGrassi_webDiego Grassi is Senior Market Development Manager, u-blox. Grassi joined the Product Strategy team in the Product Center Cellular at u-blox AG in July 2014. He is responsible for the development of Industrial, retail, and enterprise markets.

Prior to joining u-blox, Grassi held positions in product marketing, business development, and strategic marketing in at Micron, Numonyx, and STMicroelectronics. There, he managed multiple demand generation and ecosystem enabling programs at a worldwide level in the telecom, consumer, and industrial electronics segments. Grassi has a technical background in industrial electronics and holds a university degree with a focus on the economics of information.

Data Concentrators are Key to Engineering a Smarter Grid

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

To design cost-efficient and future-proof concentrators, developers need to carefully consider WAN and NAN options, hardware platform scalability, software availability and networking/data security design.

According to a recent An­nual Energy Outlook, worldwide energy con­sumption will increase 50 percent by 2035, and electricity alone will increase by 30 percent during the same time1. Global demand for electrical power has outstripped supply and there’s no end to the situation in sight. Unfortunately, only generating more power is not a viable solution. A more feasible way for both the short and long term is to be more efficient with the electrical power that is already being generated and dis­tributed over the grid.

A step in this direction would be to make the grid itself more intelligent so that power utilities, governmental regulators, power distribution companies and consum­ers could better monitor, analyze and control energy generation, distribution and usage. Along with smart meters deployed worldwide in the last ten years, data concentrators play a key role in enabling intelligent power consumption with more robust end-to-end communications.

Challenges Facing the Smart Grid

Data concentrators serve as the interface between the utility-controlled smart grid distribution network and end users, managing the data exchange between the utility and multiple smart meters in a particular geographical area. In both advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) and automated meter reading (AMR) systems, data concentrators—also called data aggregators—provide the core functionality required to measure, analyze and collect energy usage. They then communicate that data to a central database for billing, troubleshooting and analyzing.

Before we jump into the details about data concentrators, let’s take a look at the current grid challenges that concentrators need to address:

  • First, a variety of communication standards and protocols exist between meters and utility servers. On one side, smart meters could be configured with a neighbor-area network (NAN) communications, featuring narrow bandwidth and lower power consumption, based on regional or country-wide policy, such as RS485, narrow band power line communication (PLC), broad band PLC, low power RF, etc. On the other side, utilities may have an existing wide-area network (WAN) communication, featuring higher bandwidth and higher data speed, to collect data such as GSM/GPRS (migrating to 3G/4G network), Ethernet, optical cable, even proprietary radio. The concentrator should have enough communication processing capability and flexible / configurable interfaces to deal with those protocols.
  • Cyber security and privacy protection is a major concern. With the adoption of cloud-based smart grid solutions, increasing cyber threats are forcing stronger security measures on all levels of smart grid equipment. Research suggests2 the global smart grid cyber security market will grow at a CAGR of almost 30 percent over the period 2012-2016. Also, information from private residential dwellings needs to be protected, and not accessible by non-authorized parties. Specifically, utilities are requiring more and more security features on data concentrators, including device security, content encryption and anti-hacking.
  • Real-time monitoring is needed to diagnose the status of a regional grid. Along with modern grid network migration, utilities need to access the status of the grid network, not only the residential low-voltage power grid, but also renewable and distributed energy networks, such as from solar inverters, solar panels, industrial lighting networks, etc. Metrology and power analytics will be required on data concentrators to monitor power-line performance and efficiency, so utilities can take immediate actions to reduce outage or fix local power line issues.
  • Finally, support is needed for a number of applications, software and upgrades. To enable advanced applications such as demand response, metering data management, billing information statistics, inventory management, web browsing, networking protocol conversion, etc., utilities must have advanced operating systems and powerful processors on the data concentrator.

Main Functions of a Data Concentrator

Data concentrators push intelligence to the edge of the grid by integrating, organizing and aggregating information from e-meters or other end equipment on the grid. Typically located at the transformer or a secondary substation level, data concentrators need to have the following basic functions (Figure 1):

  • Provide reliable communication with meters and head ends
  • Secure consumers’ data and information
  • Monitor regional grid status
  • Support various data management applications.
TI Figure 1
Figure 1. The main functions required of modern data concentrators

Technologies To Consider When Designing Data Concentrators

Typically, data concentrator systems use sophisticated designs based on microcontrollers (MCU) or microprocessors (MPU) and rely on multiple wireless or wired communication in the last mile. There are many considerations when starting to develop a concentrator system, including how system flexibility will comply with regional or global communication regulations, how system scalability will support from 10s of service node to more than a thousand service nodes with a reasonable cost structure, key security features, and how to support advanced applications. A superset of a smart data concentrator system is shown in Figure 2.

TI Figure 2
Figure 2. A diagram of a typical data concentrator system, based on TI’s Smart Data Concentrator reference design.

NAN Communication Options

Power line communication (PLC) has been used for many decades and gained worldwide interest with its ability to modulate communication signals over existing power lines and enabling devices to be networked without introducing any new wires or cables. This capability is extremely attractive across a diverse range of applications, including utility metering, home area networks, lighting and solar, which can leverage greater intelligence and efficiency through networking.

A variety of new services and applications now require greater reliability and data rates than PLC techniques from the past. Several factors impact PLC performance, including impulsive and narrowband noise, time-varying line impedance and frequency-selective channels. Table 1 and Figure 3 present three-phase PLC data concentrator PHY test criteria and performance results with special care to cope with those factors.

TI Table 1
Table 1. Criteria and results from a three-phase PLC data concentrator PHY test
TI Figure 3
Figure 3. Performance of a three-phase PLC data concentrator

PRIME, G3 and IEEE P1901.2 are the three PLC standards most discussed in the market recently, all of them based on orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (OFDM) modulation and channel coding techniques to efficiently utilize the CENELEC band (regulated in Europe) to achieve high resiliency to interference and attenuation, and data speeds up to 40kbps. If using the full FCC band (3kHz-490kHz), a higher data rate (40Kbps-1Mbps) can be reached. On the PHY layer, robust modes are defined and enable communication across the medium voltage (MV) to low voltage (LV) transformers. As a result, the latest PLC can achieve reliable communications up to 10 km away while crossing between medium voltage transformers. The standards also enable communications over the low voltage and medium voltage (LV/MV) transformer crossing for a total distance of up to 4-5 km, depending on the channel condition. (3)(4)(5)

On the MAC layer, PRIME, G3 and IEEE P1901.2 support IPv4/IPv6 networks in an efficient manner so no additional router is needed to run in IP network.

To achieve the best bill of materials (BOM), a designer needs to consider and integrated analog front end (AFE) to support the full FCC band and a programmable PLC modem to support multiple PLC standards through a software upgrade method. At the network level, a developer also must consider the number of nodes connected to the concentrator, the number of levels from the “leaf” node to the “root” node, the reliability of the switch node, locations and length of the low voltage lines in order to run a reliable automated meter reading and control application.

Aside from PLC, low power RF technology is also widely used at certain regions, as well as RS485 communication used to support legacy meters deployed in those markets. Those require MCUs or MPUs with enough serial interfaces (for example, up to 8 UARTs).

Considering WAN Communication

10/100/1000M Ethernet and optical cable have been widely used in grid infrastructure as WAN options, but those may be not accessible everywhere, nor the best options from a CAPEX/OPEX perspective. Wireless access technology is another choice. Currently, GSM/GPRS technology has been adopted (up to 52kbps throughput); future alternatives are WCDMA/CDMA2000 (up to 2Mbps) and LTE (up to 1Gbps). The appropriate choice for WAN technology will likely be made on the following criteria: availability, price, throughput, latency and indoor coverage, with a mix of different technologies possible in the future.

System Scalability

The scalability of a data concentrator’s hardware platform and software capability is important, and it can save a lot of engineering cost and time to market. Depending on specific utility requirements and deployment scenarios, one data concentrator could be connected to less than 100 service nodes (meters), or up to 1000 service nodes. The operating system is also required to enable easy maintenance and upgrading with new applications and networking stacks. For example, with more than a decade of development, Linux has general acceptance as the open source, royalty-free operating system with lots of rich features, also a real-timing patch could be added on if needed. If Linux is needed, some low-end MCUs, not having enough internal memory space and external flash memory support, will be out of consideration. Most engineers are should seriously consider a pin-to-pin compatible MCU/MPU platform with core frequency scaled from 300Mhz to 1GHz, enabling a longer life cycle (>5 years) for the concentrator in the field.

Beyond the hardware considerations, developers need to consider the software needs for their system. In addition to full PLC software stacks, developers can use a complete implementation of the IEC 62056 DLMS/COSEM protocol stack (including server and client stacks), which allows AMI/AMR vendors to jumpstart development of data concentrators and metering head end nodes, not to mention accelerating time-to-market. Another example would be metrology software, which is used to monitor voltage, current, frequency, active power, reactive power, and harmonics over the power line. Most semiconductor chip vendors can provide MCU-optimized metrology libraries.

Cyber Security and Data Protection

There are a couple different levels of security, each based on certain network deployment and overall security strategies that different utilities may require.

  • Network security
    • This will be managed by the communication protocol itself, for example, IPSec, SRTP, ciphering (AES, DES, SHA-1/-2), etc.
  • Device security
    • Includes secure boot and runtime security.
    • Secure boot protects software stored in the boot image and protects device from executing unauthorized software; multiple public keys and customer keys will be involved during the boot sequence.
    • Runtime security controls the management of emulation, debug, trace and test capabilities within the system. Memory pages, registers and peripherals will be configured with access levels, such as “user” or “supervisor” mode; read, write or execute mode, etc.
  • Secure storage
    • This will protect the data in non-volatile peripherals or off-chip memory (vender software/IP, or user private data).
    • Also provides re-authoring support (re-encryption with device specific key).


Data concentrators play an important role in a modern AMR/AMI system. To design cost-efficient and future-proof concentrators, developers need to carefully consider WAN and NAN options, hardware platform scalability, software availability, and networking/data security design.



James Hao is marketing manager for TI’s Smart Grid Infrastructure solutions. He is responsible for worldwide grid infrastructure business development. He has more than 12 years of experience in industrial, wireless communication and networking applications. He earned a BSEE and MSEE from the University of Electronic and Science Technology of China (UESTC).

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