Altera Products Enable Compact, Optical Meter Reading via Wireless Reading Systems' RECAPS Product
San Jose and Los Angeles, Calif., April 14, 2003 -- Altera Corporation (NASDAQ: ALTR) and Wireless Reading Systems (WRS) today announced that Altera's CycloneTM devices and Nios® processor are a key enabling technology for WRS's Remote Energy Consumption Acquisition Processor System (RECAPS). RECAPS is a compact, wireless monitoring solution that optically reads meters and transmits the information via radio to a central data center. RECAPS has immediate applications in electricity, gas, and water meter reading for both domestic and industrial users, although it was developed for use in a wide variety of meter reading applications including security systems, "smart home" monitoring, machine-to-machine communications, and vending machines.
"In this time of great challenges to the energy supply industry, RECAPS promises to significantly improve the efficiency of energy service delivery, which means lower costs for energy suppliers and consequently, energy consumers," explained Martin Forsberg Lie, software architect at WRS. "In addition to costs savings from increased meter reading efficiency, energy suppliers will benefit from the ability to monitor usage more frequently, enabling them to improve their products and services. This benefit stems from the fact that energy suppliers will be able to more closely correlate energy usage with the actual costs of purchasing and distributing energy, which change on a more frequent basis than is typically reflected in a periodic manual meter reading."
RECAPS units are designed to be affixed to the inside or outside of an existing meter. The units operate by taking a digital photo of the meter display and performing optical character recognition (OCR) on the image to obtain the meter data. The data is transmitted via a Nios processor-controlled digital radio to a concentrator that collects data from thousands of RECAPS units within a wide area, up to 20km away. The concentrator then sends the data via wireless or wired communication to the supplier network operator. By allowing existing meters to remain unchanged, RECAPS offers a superior solution to other automatic meter reading systems.
"Offering a compact, low-cost solution is critical to the success of our product," said Lie. "Choosing an Altera® programmable solution allowed us to replace a competitive FPGA and an off-the-shelf processor with a single Cyclone FPGA hosting a Nios processor at one-fifth the cost. In addition, the Altera solution provided us with greater integration, a smaller overall form factor, lower power consumption, and flexibility that was not possible in the prior solution."
"WRS's solution for automatic meter reading has the potential to bring substantial benefits to energy consumers everywhere," said Tim Colleran, vice president of product marketing at Altera. "RECAPS demonstrates how leading-edge product developers are harnessing the potent combination of low-cost Cyclone FPGAs and the versatile Nios processor to deliver innovation on a massive scale."
About the Nios Embedded Processor
Altera's Nios embedded processor is the world's most widely licensed soft-core embedded processor today. The Nios embedded processor is a general-purpose RISC CPU that can be combined with a wide array of peripherals, custom instructions, and hardware acceleration units to create a custom system-on-a-programmable-chip (SOPC) solution. The processor features a 16-bit instruction set and user-selectable 16- or 32-bit data paths, configurable for a wide range of applications. A typical 32-bit data path Nios processor consumes only $2.00 worth of logic in Altera's low-cost Cyclone FPGAs, making it one of the lowest cost RISC processors available today. The Nios embedded processor is royalty free when used in Altera FPGAs and HardCopyTM devices. An ASIC license for OEM applications is available for an additional charge. For more information, visit www.altera.com/nios.
About the Cyclone Device Family
Built from the ground up to ensure the lowest possible cost, Cyclone devices are the industry's lowest-cost FPGAs available today. Built on the advanced 0.13-micron, all-layer copper process, Altera developed the Cyclone device family to provide designers of high-volume, price-sensitive applications the flexibility of an FPGA at ASIC prices. With support for leading edge and emerging I/O standards, the Cyclone device family includes embedded RAM blocks and other features to put FPGA technology in the hands of designers developing volume-driven applications in the automotive, consumer, and computing markets. For more information about the Cyclone device family, visit www.altera.com/cyclone.
About Wireless Reading Systems
Wireless Reading Systems' business concept is to develop and supply the most cost-effective and flexible service network for remote meter reading (AMR) by means of two-way wireless communication. The system can be used for all kinds of meters, electricity, gas, water and alternative energy.
Altera Corporation is the world's pioneer in system-on-a-programmable-chip (SOPC) solutions. Combining programmable logic technology with software tools, intellectual property, and technical services, Altera provides high-value programmable solutions to approximately 14,000 customers worldwide. More information is available at http://www.altera.com.