Marvell announces smart LED lighting platform at CES

Jan. 10, 2012
Marvell's lighting-control platform matches LED driver and ZigBee wireless ICs for network control of various light sources, and the CES demonstration will include a wireless gateway and control software running on a wireless tablet PC.

The potential for smart, adaptive, solid-state lighting (SSL) systems entice IC companies such as Marvell, and the company plans an extensive demonstration of such a system at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) that begins Jan 10th in Las Vegas, NV. Marvell is announcing a new smart-lighting platform that combines an LED-driver IC and a ZigBee wireless IC, and works within the planned wireless demonstration.

Marvell's smart SSL platform

Networks and adaptive controls promise to bolster lighting-centric energy savings. LEDs alone have the potential to save 80-85% of the energy used for lighting according to Lance Zheng, Marvell senior manager of technical marketing. Zheng said, "If you add controls with networking, you can further increase the savings by 40%."

Smart lighting platform

The nearby figure illustrates Marvell's planned CES demo. The company will combine a reference design of a wireless gateway that links to various LED light sources and sensors via the ZigBee wireless mesh network. The gateway will also use Wi-Fi to link with data networks and, in the case of the demo, a tablet PC running custom software to control the lights.

The second figure shows a circuit board that implements the reference-design gateway. The board includes the 88MC200 microcontroller (MCU) that includes Wi-Fi-centric capabilities and the 88W8782 Wi-FI support IC.

Marvell's wireless gateway design

Marvell also announced the new 88MZ100 ZigBee-enabled MCU that lighting manufacturers can combine with the company's 88EM8080/91 and 88EM8801 driver ICs to create a network-enabled luminaire or lamp.

The company also has developed a Linux-based software package that implements the gateway capabilities, and that is available to IC customers. Moreover, Marvell offers the application code to implement control schemes on a tablet or other type of PC.

Smart scenarios

While Marvell's Zheng focused on energy reduction, he noted many other potential uses for adding controls to lighting systems. Zheng suggested that in the future you might have ambient-lighting systems that deliver a lighting track as a complement to a movie similar to a sound track for audio effects. Tunable color is also a potential usage model with warmer temperatures early in the day and cooler temperatures at night.

Short term, however, the challenge is the cost of SSL systems. Zheng said, "The main reason that LEDs have not been deployed in the mass market is cost." With the cost of LED components dropping, the driver circuits become a more significant cost factor. Zheng sees more highly-integrated ICs as the enabler of lower cost lamps and luminaires.