Maxim Integrated introduces the industry’s smallest 2-pin bi-directional DC powerline communications (PLC) device, the MAX20340, enabling designers of ultra-low-power portable and wearable devices to reduce the size of a power and communication interface to the charging dock by up to 80%. With power and communication on a single line, the MAX20340 eliminates pins and discrete devices needed to communicate between a charging dock and a low-voltage end product such as true wireless earbuds, rings and other small wearables. This simplifies the design process and saves up to 13mm2 per earbud compared to the closest competitive solution.

This ultra-small PLC chip minimizes the number of mechanical contact points for the charging and communication interface, which reduces cost, limits points of failure and increases reliability. In addition, the MAX20340 incorporates automatic presence detection, enabling flexible design and eliminating unreliable and costly alternative methods such as mechanical pogo pins or hall effect sensors. The device is configured as either a communication master or slave by a single external resistor. Multiple modes of operation offer designers the opportunity to minimize power consumption based on their application needs. Finally, the communication protocol is as simple as reading and writing via I2C with the MAX20340 managing all communication across the interface.

Key Advantages

  • Smallest Solution Size: MAX20340 provides an 80 percent size reduction versus the closest competitive solution; each MAX20340 PLC IC is only 1.84mm2 and does not require any large external components such as inductors.
  • Reliability: Hosting communication and power over the same line reduces potential points of failure and cost.
  • Ease of Design: A simple mailbox communication scheme for read and write functions is handled through an I2C interface.

Availability and Pricing

  • The MAX20340 is available at Maxim’s website for $0.82 (1000-up, FOB USA); also available from authorized distributors.
  • The MAX20340EVKIT#evaluation kit is available for $57.