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Today's Technology Enablers: Exploring Semitech Semiconductor

By Alex Passett

Transportation. Smart grids. Smart lighting. Alternative energy. Plus, a broad sweep of additional Industrial IoT (IIoT) applications.

The common denominator here?

Easy. That’s IIoT communication from Semitech Semiconductor.

Semitech’s mission is simple: To provide highly versatile, reliable, robust and low-cost communications semiconductors and embedded system products for the IIoT space.

Now, how does Semitech achieve this?

By enabling interoperable and robust communications in virtually any type of setting; i.e. use existing power lines, wirelessly. Semiconductor devices from Semitech enable the transformation of existing infrastructures into their smarter counterparts.

Semitech’s multi-modal Power Line Communications (PLC) chip – the SM2400 – supports a wide range of standard bases and proprietary modes, making it adaptable for customers’ needs and IIoT applications.

“IoT and IIoT have a lot of different definitions for a lot of different people. It’s a very fragmented space,” said Zeev Collin, Semitech’s CEO. “We find the sweet spots in industrial and automotive applications in the sea of the Internet of Things to deliver the core technology of trusted communications in every use case we can. We expertly tailor our algorithms and solutions to specific customer requirements, and we pride ourselves on that close customer support.”

So, let’s return to that breadth of adaptable, multi-modal communication applications:

- Transportation: Semitech provides in-vehicle and to-vehicle communications in order to increase safety, reliability, and cost management for vehicle and fleet owners alike. This covers (but isn’t limited to) driver ID and sensor reading, ABS system reading, EV charging infrastructure, and battery management.

- Smart grids: “We’re the experts that provide the pipes to reliably stream sensory and control data to and from IIoT devices connected to the grid,” Collin said. Impactful smart grids bring sustainable and reliable electrical power systems to life via sensors, networks, and intelligent controls. (Not to mention dynamic utility management, valuable smart meters, real-time energy supply monitoring, etc.) In that vein, Semitech’s technology enables frequent remote reading of smart meters; electricity meters, gas and water meters, home displays, and medium voltage connectivity. This allows Semitech to monitor the health of the grid, to action real-time optimizations with available resources, and to unlock new AI-driven applications in smart-enabled environments.

- Smart lighting: Part and parcel with grids, smart-lit streetlights (for instance) are one of the most important assets for a smart city; providing safe roads, lighting in public areas, and giving smart homeowners peace of mind. (Not to leave out venue lighting for musical and sports events, emergency lighting systems, or PLC in airfield lighting.)

- Alternative energy: Semitech’s offerings allow energy customers to design the future of smart alternative energy solutions – solar, wind, EV charging stations, etc. Semitech enables communications for chargers, solar inverters, solar farms and more.

This, readers, might be where I’d close a piece like this. But as fate would have it, we have more recent Semitech news worthy of its due coverage, as well:

Last week, Semitech also announced that its SM2400 solution now supports the SAE J2497 (PLC4TRUCKS) standard. This is huge; this PLC4TRUCKS networking standard applies to heavy-duty vehicles that use PLC over the direct current (DC) power bus to communicate between tractor and trailer.

Semitech provides semiconductors and complete modules to vehicles’ vital anti-lock braking systems (ABS) OEMs and to manufacturers of aftermarket products like the diagnostics equipment for ABS systems and trailer telematics.

Semitech’s PLC4TRUCKS module, the P40, greatly exceeds its standard performance requirements and demonstrates interoperability with major ABS vendors’ solutions. So, as Collin noted, “Semitech is highly focused on the automotive and transportation market segments. We leverage both our adaptable architecture and support models to add high-performance, modernizing and truly extending the lifetime and usefulness of the SAE J2497 (PLC4TRUCKS) standard.”

That P40 module, based on Semitech’s multi-mode SM2400 chip, supports various PLC standards and proprietary modes. Other key features include fast time-to-market via ease of hardware integration (via a 4-pin interface) and ease of software integration, its industrial-grade and field-tested and proven components, and more.

Collin and I got the chance to speak about other Semitech-related topics, too; those included the company’s involvement with forklift operations and chargers, lithium battery monitoring (i.e. temperature, currents, other parameters), and a re-emphasis placed on Semitech’s reliance assurances.

“IoT and IIoT spans a lot of applications,” Collin said, “but they also share a lot of basic commonality in terms of needing cost-effective narrowband communication. This is what we provide, even in environments where interconnectivity might not be seen as conducive. Working on the forefront of PLC and wireless communication solutions is what we represent.”

Edited by Greg Tavarez
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