Accent moves into smart metering

Accent, which started its life as a design house cofounded by Cadence Design Systems and STMicroelectronics in 1993, is making the transformation into a fabless chipmaker with the launch of a high-integration device aimed at the smart-meter business.

Instead of taking companies such as Texas Instruments head-on, which sells its microcontrollers to smart-meter makers, Accent aims to slash meter production cost by combining five or more chips in one. Like Energy Micro, which aims to sell low-power microcontrollers against TI’s MSP430, Accent has chosen to base its ASMgrid around the ARM Cortex M3 processor core.

Federico Arcelli, CEO of Accent, said: “What is happening with the Smart Grid is that more intelligence is being added to smart meters” together with support for bidirectional communications. This calls for radio support and faster embedded processing, he added.

“The way we are changing things is to launch an integrated SoC solution that combines embedded processing, RF, powerline communications and flash memory.

Accent will customise the device for large customers: the initial ASMgrid is intended as reference silicon with software that provides the metering functions. “We have developed all the drivers and protocol stacks,” said Arcelli.

“Development cost is a fraction of a standard SoC,” he claimed and reduce system cost compared with off-the-shelf parts as five components have been moved into one in the core device.

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