Intel débuts three-in-one radio chip

December 14, 2007 // 3:48 p.m.

Tags: #asic #chip #dvb-h #intel #radio #single #tv #wifi #wimax

Intel has announced that it is to start commercial production early next week of a software-defined radio chip capable of switching between WiFi, WiMAX, and DVB-H.

The three-in-one chip could theoretically be used to access your WiFi network at home; switched to WiMAX for when you're out on the road (pending anyone actually bothering to create a nation-wide WiMAX network for you to use, of course); and turned to the DVB-H mode when you fancy a bit of on-the-go digital TV.

Jeff Hoffman, system architect for Intel's Wireless Communication Labs, makes the reasonable point that “there are too many radios” in modern hand-held devices. With each chip costing money to make and taking up valuable space and power there's certainly something to be said for integrating as much as possible on to combined-purpose chips.

The chip will consume approximately 79mW of power when in use, which is a significant energy saving compared to having two or three different radio chips in use at once. It's a shame that the same can't be said for size: at 24mm² the chip takes up approximately equal space to individual ASICs for each function.

While certainly buzz-word compliant, it's interesting that Intel has made the choice to go for broke and support an as-yet largely unadopted technology with WiMAX; I would imagine that most users would have preferred a Wifi/Bluetooth/DVB-H all-in-one chip. That said, it's perfectly possible that the gamble will pay off should various planned large-scale WiMAX rollouts ever materialise.

Still hoping for the promised all-in-one PDA with access-everything-everywhere capability? Give us your thoughts via the forums.
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