Agilent Unveils Single-chip Analog Front-end for Powerline Modems

12/10/2003 - Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: A) introduced the industry's first fully integrated, optical-based analog front-end (AFE) chip for narrowband powerline modems (PLMs), which are used in the energy utility and home networking markets. The chip replaces more than 30 discrete components, reducing board space by 50 percent. Fewer parts simplifies PLM design and improves system performance and reliability. The Agilent HCPL-800J DAA (data access arrangement) chip represents a lower cost, higher performance alternative to current AFE designs that combine an isolation transformer with multiple discrete components.

Narrowband powerline communication systems typically operate at up to 9.6 kb/s. They use PLMs, which plug into AC power outlets, to enable the transmission of information through electrical power lines, delivering control and automation for various electrical functions and opening new electrical service markets. Agilent's fully integrated powerline DAA chip enables the development of cost-effective PLM network connectivity for both automated meter reading and home network applications. PLMs used in a home network environment allow centralized control and monitoring of home lighting and security systems as well as appliances such as thermostats, motorized entry gates and dishwashers. Narrowband PLMs allow utility companies to automatically and remotely gather information on energy consumption for billing and demand management.

"The HCPL-800J is based on Agilent's state-of-the-art optical isolation technology and is the first in a series of new products that positions Agilent in new markets," said Chong Tze Siong, vice president and general manager of Agilent's Isolation Products Division. "Our new single-chip analog front end has been well received by powerline modem manufacturers. Customers value the device's high level of integration, superior performance and reliability, and they welcome Agilent's high-volume manufacturing and supply chain capability."

The Agilent HCPL-800J interfaces the PLM transceiver/ENDEC (encoder-decoder) IC with the AC powerline used as the signal transmission medium. It provides voltage and signal amplification, and galvanic isolation protects the user and the equipment being interfaced to the PLM. The HCPL-800J incorporates a control IC and a line IC, optically isolated from each other. The modulated signal from the PLM transceiver is input to the control IC. This transmit signal is optically coupled to the line IC, then amplified and sent to the powerline. In the other direction, a potentially weak and noisy signal from the powerline is received by the line IC and optically coupled to the control IC, where it is amplified and output to the PLM transceiver.

HCPL-800J Features
In addition to reduced part count and high performance, the HCPL-800J offers other important features for PLM design:

Approval under the following safety standards is currently pending: VDE0884/06.92 (IEC/EN/DIN EN60747-5-2) with VIORM = 891 V peak; UL 1577, component recognition program, File E55361; and CSA Acceptance Notice #5, File CA 88324.

U.S. Pricing and Availability
The Agilent HCPL-800J DAA chip is priced at less than $2.80 each in high-volume quantities and is available now through Agilent's direct sales channel and worldwide distribution partners.

Further information on Agilent's optically isolated products is available at

About Agilent Technologies
Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: A) is a global technology leader in communications, electronics, life sciences and chemical analysis. The company's 29,000 employees serve customers in more than 110 countries. Agilent had net revenue of $6.1 billion in fiscal year 2003. Information about Agilent is available on the Web at

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