Semiconductor integrator Accent has launched what it says is the first Clean Tech System-on-Chip (SoC) platform, called ASMgrid. The chip is aimed at improving the performance of smart meter and Home Area Network (HAN) end-products.
The opportunity’s clear. According to Pike Research’s managing director Clint Wheelock, "Smart meters are the vanguard of smart grid deployments and will represent a $3.9bn global market by 2015, with penetration in that year still only reaching 18% of total installed electric meters”.
Accent has seen the business potential in improving the performance of smart meter equipment and networks and the need for optimised solutions. The company claims that the new chip integrates the functionality typically found in five semiconductor devices and that it will enable developers to significantly reduce development cost, time and risk and manufacturers to benefit from better silicon integration.
Not only has Italy-based Accent introduced the new chip, but smart grids and meters have become the new company focus. Accent’s business is semiconductor integration of communications and metering technologies and the recent acquisition of Wipro’s RF engineering team, together with some WiFi technology, and the opening of a Wireless IP development centre in France seems to be all part of this new company focus.
Markets don’t get much bigger than this so Accent may well benefit from a first mover advantage, but I doubt that the company will be out on its own for long. There’s going to be stiff competition and given the volumes involved it’s likely to develop into a market where ever-increasing chip functionality is accompanied by ever increasing competitive price pressure. Sound familiar?