STMicroelectronics and Arkados Announce Plans to Bring HomePlug AV System-on-Chip to Market

Thursday, October 30th, 2008
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PISCATAWAY, NJ, and GENEVA — Arkados (OTCBB: AKDS) and STMicroelectronics (NYSE: STM) today announced that they have reached an agreement to develop and manufacture a best-in-class 200 Mbit per second, HomePlug AV wideband powerline modem System-on-Chip (SoC) that will set a new standard for integration, performance, price, and features.

Planned for availability mid-next year, the world’s first HomePlug AV SoC is designed to power applications ranging from simple Ethernet-to-powerline bridges to full-featured products as wide ranging as HDTV distribution, digital set-top boxes, IPTV, whole-house audio, networked digital picture frames, surveillance systems, and also industrial and commercial applications, especially targeting the Smart Grid and Green Energy segments. Components of these systems use powerline communications technology to establish robust and secure connections using the existing electrical wires in a home or building.

The HomePlug AV-based SoC will boast an integrated AFE (analog front end), a wide variety of built-in interfaces, and a powerful ARM processor. The SoC will offer processing in cutting-edge 65nm geometry, providing savings in both cost and power consumption, while also offering full interoperability with the existing base of nearly 20 million HomePlug 1.0 chips, a feature currently not available in competing HomePlug AV devices.

The next-generation chip will include support for the Inter PHY Communication Protocol (IPP), currently being defined by the IEEE P1901 Working Group; the chip could also be the first to market compatible with the expected IEEE 1901 industry standard for high-speed powerline communications.

“In working with ST, Arkados has found a truly complementary and mutually beneficial partnership,” said Oleg Logvinov, president and CEO of Arkados. “ST’s investment into the design and development of this chip is a validation of both Arkados’ vision and the entire powerline communication market. By uniting the best technology and IP blocks from ST, with Arkados’ ten-year powerline chip experience and unique application-friendly HomePlug AV implementation, this single device can offer the cost-effective solution that the market needs – both for PHY/MAC-only solutions, and for the more powerful application-processing segments.”

“ST is a world leader in developing leading-edge SoC solutions across many diverse applications and bringing them to market quickly,” said Pietro Menniti, General Manager, Industrial and Power Conversion Division, STMicroelectronics. “The company believes that HomePlug AV is a market with a very high potential, in addition to recognizing the expertise of Arkados in developing cutting-edge powerline communications designs.”

The introduction of this device is timed to take place to meet the market’s needs for communications solutions that help to implement Smart Grid and Green Energy applications. The agreement specifies that both ST and Arkados will market a version of the device specifically targeted at “bridging” applications such as Ethernet-to-Powerline adapters, or other applications where only a MAC/PHY implementation is needed. Arkados will continue to focus on marketing the chip for more full-featured connected media applications such as whole-house audio, IPTV, and segments of the smart-grid market.

The agreement allows Arkados to complete the design and manufacturing of the state-of-the-art chip without making the costly investment of taping out a new chip. ST is contributing to the investment for the development and manufacturing for the Arkados-designed chip. In return, ST receives the rights to market the chip through its worldwide distribution network.