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

NUREMBURG, GERMANY–(Marketwire – Nov 28, 2012) – The SmartPower Stack™ 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™ 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™ 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™ 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™ 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™ 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™ 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™, 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 at
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.
Contact Information
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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