Sony demos 6.3Gb/s millimetre-wave radio tech

February 24, 2012 // 1:29 p.m.

Tags: #16qam #60ghz #isscc #japan #sony #tokyo-institute-of-techno #tokyo-institute-of-technology #wi-fi- #wi-fi #wireless-communications

Sony has announced that it has developed in partnership with the Tokyo Institute of Technology a design for a low-power wideband wireless communications system capable of transferring data at a whopping 6.3Gb/s.

According to the company's presentation at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference in San Francisco this week, the design takes the form of a chip combining a baseband system with the required codec and a radiofrequency transceiver using four millimetre-wave channels.

Using Sony's low-density parity check (LDPC) error-correcting code, which the company claims is the most efficient in the world in terms of energy usage per bit, the combined design uses around 90mW when transmitting at 6.3Gb/s. It's this high efficiency, Sony claims, that makes the design uniquely suited for mobile gadgets that require high-speed short-range radio communications.

Based on the 60GHz spectrum band, the system won't be replacing Wi-Fi any time soon. It may, however, find a use in future Sony gadgets including laptops, tablets and smartphones as a handy way of shuffling large quantities of data around a home network to, for example, stream high-definition content to a compatible TV.

The impressive speeds achieved by the prototype are down to a team of researchers at Tokyo Tech led by Professor Akira Matsuzawa and Associate Professor Kenichi Okada. Designing the radiofrequency portion of the system the team were able to create a 60GHz direct-conversion transceiver capable of operating in 16 Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (16QAM) mode at every frequency defined in the 60GHz millimetre-wave communications standard. It's this amplitude modulation that allows the chip to squeeze so much data into such a small space, and combined with the low-power error correction developed by Sony makes the resultant chip a tempting proposition.

Thus far, Sony hasn't indicated when it plans to bring the technology to market. When it does, its first customers are likely to be military: a portion of the research and development was carried out as part of a project dubbed 'R&D for Expansion of Radio Wave Resources,' sponsored by the Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications.

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