SmartPower Stack(TM) Consortium Announces Selection of National Instruments Single-Board RIO General Purpose Inverter Controller

Wed Nov 28, 2012 8:00am EST

* Reuters is not responsible for the content in this press release.

  NUREMBURG, GERMANY, Nov 28 (Marketwire) -- 
The SmartPower Stack(TM) Consortium, comprised of Methode Electronics,
Inc. (NYSE: MEI), SBE Inc., Fuji Electric Corp. of America and
AgileSwitch, LLC today announced the selection of the National
Instruments (NASDAQ: NATI) ("NI") Single-Board RIO General Purpose
Inverter Controller (GPIC) as the integrated control system for a new 100
kilowatt intelligent power stack module. The NI GPIC features
cutting-edge Xilinx field-programmable gate array (FPGA) technology with
58 integrated DSP cores to deliver 40 times higher performance per dollar
than traditional DSP-based control systems. The SmartPower Stack(TM) with
NI GPIC also includes a comprehensive NI LabVIEW system design software
that eliminates any need for knowledge of VHDL or Verilog programming
languages and enables the development of advanced LabVIEW FPGA control
algorithms in a high-fidelity desktop co-simulation environment.

    The SmartPower Stack(TM) consists of SBE high-performance wound film
capacitors; Fuji Electric Corp. of America industry-leading insulated
gate bipolar transistors (IGBTs); AgileSwitch cutting-edge IGBT gate
drives; Methode Electronics innovative bus bar power distribution,
thermal management, and ISO 9001 manufacturing assembly and test
capabilities; and the industry-leading NI GPIC control system powered by
LabVIEW software. 

    Through technical and business collaboration, the consortium is creating
a fully-integrated SmartPower Stack(TM) 100 kilowatt three-phase inverter
sub-system to significantly reduce the cost and risk of deploying
next-generation, smart grid-ready, digital energy conversion systems.
This effort represents the industry's first collaboration to bring
together best-in-class technologies and graphical system design tools in
a way that simultaneously reduces cost and increases performance through
technology integration that spans the boundaries between each company.

    AgileSwitch President and CEO Rob Weber said, "This collaboration of
global leaders in all key technology domains will bring a new generation
of power stacks to the market that enable our customers to develop the
most innovative, next-generation solutions for renewable energy
applications like solar, wind, electric vehicles, high efficiency drives,
grid storage systems and uninterruptible power supplies."

    SBE President and CEO Ed Sawyer commented, "This new architecture
integrates our industry leading film capacitor technology with advanced
gate drives, FPGA-based controls, bus bar architectures, cooling
solutions, and IGBT modules. The consortium is on track to become a
cost-competitive efficiency enabler for innovative companies in the smart
grid, motor drive and digital energy conversion industries."

    "We are excited to team up with other industry leaders to build the next
generation of power conversion systems," said Steve Bottari, Fuji
Electric's General Manager of Semiconductors. "The SmartPower Stack(TM)
integrated design will truly showcase Fuji Electric's high-performance,
high-reliability IGBTs." 

    Methode Electronics Power Solutions Group General Manager Andrew Urda
added, "The combined innovation of the SmartPower Stack(TM) consortium
companies will provide the power electronics industry with modular, high
efficiency building bricks, enabling our customers to deploy
next-generation solutions today." 

    National Instruments Principal Product Manager for Clean Energy
Technology Brian MacCleery remarked, "National Instruments is pleased
that the consortium selected the NI General Purpose Inverter Controller
and LabVIEW system design tools for their integrated control system. The
SmartPower Stack(TM) with NI GPIC will provide a standard, modular
building block for the electric power industry that significantly reduces
engineering cost and risk. Development teams can expect to save at least
114 person-months of engineering cost per design and complete their
projects in less than half the time."

    About Methode Electronics
 Methode Electronics, Inc. (NYSE: MEI) is a
global developer of custom engineered and application specific products
and solutions with manufacturing, design and testing facilities in China,
Germany, India, Lebanon, Malta, Mexico, the Philippines, Singapore,
Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States. Methode designs
manufactures and markets devices employing electrical, electronic,
wireless, safety radio remote control, sensing and optical technologies
to control and convey signals through sensors, interconnections and
controls. Our business is managed on a segment basis, with those segments
being Automotive, Interconnect, Power Products and Other. Our components
are in the primary end markets of the automobile, computer, information
processing and networking equipment, voice and data communication
systems, consumer electronics, appliances, aerospace vehicles and
industrial equipment industries. Further information can be found at
Methode's website at

    About SBE Inc.
 SBE Inc. is a leading developer and manufacturer of film
capacitor solutions that provide a much higher degree of reliability,
higher power density, and simpler cooling infrastructure in demanding
applications, particularly for automotive/transportation, alternative
energy, utilities, power supplies/laser and military/aerospace.
Originally a Sprague Electric Plant, SBE has been manufacturing
capacitors for over 50 years; producing over a billion capacitors. With
the newer development of its DC Link Power Ring Film Capacitor(TM), SBE
Inc. was recently awarded a $9.1 Million grant by the Department of
Energy to build a world class facility for the manufacture of this line
of capacitors used in drive train inverters for plug-in hybrid and
electric drive vehicles. The company's headquarters, engineering, product
development center and manufacturing operation are located in Barre,
Vermont. Further information can be found at SBE's website at 

 AgileSwitch, LLC is developing transformative
technology that dramatically improves the performance and efficiency of
drivers for IGBT switches. IGBTs are used in a variety of power
converters including solar inverters, wind turbines, motor drives, UPS,
industrial machines, HEV, traction and power distribution. Power
converters have been incrementally improved over recent decades and have
reached the point where a large effort is needed to achieve a small gain
in performance or efficiency. The Company's technologies can help
significantly cut power loss in some applications and provide substantial
performance benefits in powering most electronic equipment. The Company's
technologies are specifically targeted toward converters for systems
focused on renewable energy (e.g. solar, wind, smart grid, HEV) as well
as other mission critical applications (e.g. traction, UPS). AgileSwitch
is supported by Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern
Pennsylvania. Further information can be found at AgileSwitch's website

 Fuji Electric Corp. of America is a
wholly owned subsidiary of Fuji Electric Co., Ltd., and has been
responsible for sales and distribution of the company's products since
1970. Fuji Electric Co., Ltd. has been developing power electronics
equipment since 1923, and is a global leader in industrial products
ranging from semiconductors, power supply, and power generation equipment
to AC drives and electric vehicle charging stations. For more information
please visit 

    About National Instruments
 Since 1976, National Instruments (
has equipped engineers and scientists with tools that accelerate
productivity, innovation and discovery. NI's graphical system design
approach to engineering provides an integrated software and hardware
platform that speeds the development of any system needing measurement
and control. The company's long-term vision and focus on improving
society through its technology supports the success of its customers,
employees, suppliers and shareholders. 


Methode Electronics, Inc.
Cecilia Ostberg
Marketing Program Manager
Tel: 708-457-3286

SBE Inc.
Christine Sawyer
Director of Marketing
Tel: 802-476-4146

AgileSwitch, LLC 
Rob Weber
Tel: 610-889-2255

Fuji Electric Corp. of America
Doretta Caprarola
Marketing Manager 
Tel: 201-490-3933

National Instruments
Julia Betts
Corporate Communications Manager
Tel: 512-683-8165

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