Maxim’s PLC Enables Communication And Charging Over 1-Channel


  • Max20340 is claimed to be the industry’s smallest 2-pin bi-directional DC powerline communications(PLC) device
  • It features power and communication on a single line which reduces cost and increases reliability of electronic devices

Power Line Communication (PLC) is a communication technology that enables sending data over existing power cables. Electronic devices generally run on power cables. PLC deals with a method by which a single channel can be used to power as well as data communication of the system.

Maxim Integrated launched a new power management IC for industrial applications. The Max20340 eliminates the pins and discrete devices needed to communicate between a charging dock and a low-voltage end product. These products include wireless earbuds, rings and other small wearables.

Minimises mechanical contact points


This PLC chip minimises the number of mechanical contact points for the charging and communication interface. By minimising these points, Maxim claims that it can provide a  reduced cost and increase reliability to the system. Additionally, it can minimise the total points of failure in a system.

Maximum charge current of up to 1.2A

The MAX20340 features a maximum data bit rate of up to 166.7kbps. The device is capable to provide a maximum charge current of up to 1.2A. It features a slave detection circuit. The circuit marks an interrupt flag to the system when the PLC master detects the presence of a PLC slave on the powerline. This function allows the system to remain in a low-power state until a slave device is connected.

Features a dual master/slave mode

This management IC features a number of operations such as master/slave mode, I²C address and dual/single PLC slave mode. All these features are independent of I/O pins. These pins can be configured according to the need of the designer through embedded programming.

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The device is available in a 9-bump configurations. The IC comes with the dimensions of  1.358mm x 1.358mm. It is packed in a wafer-level package (WLP). This packaging structure provides maximum heat dissipation from the device.

Minimises power consumption

For communication, the device can work in a master or slave configuration. It is selectable using a single external resistor. The chip offers multiple modes of operation to the designers. This can help in minimising the power consumption based on their application needs.

The communication protocol incorporates a mailbox communication scheme. It used to read and write data via I2C with the Max20340. This helps in managing all communication across the interface.

Wide application areas primarily smart wearables 

Andrew Baker, managing director, industrial and healthcare business unit at Maxim Integrated talked about the product saying,

“Customers demand smaller form factors without sacrificing features and performance. The Max20340 enables wireless earbud and bio-sensing ring makers to create the comfortable, lightweight products consumers demand.”

This IC can be a good option for power management devices and seeks usage in different sectors. It includes designing of game controllers, handheld radios, point of sales devices, tethered wireless headphones hearing aids, truly wireless earbuds and smart wearables.




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