Too Many Wire..lesses?IDF SPRING 2007
By 2009 you could probably have something like six to ten radio devices inside your chosen mobile device. Not that you don’t already have 2.4GHz wireless, Bluetooth, 3G etc, but it’s going to get worse with the introduction of Wireless USB, DVB-HDTV, GPS, WiMAX and the release of the 60GHz band.
Intel is developing a configurable antenna technology to cope with this influx of new wireless technologies, and it's expected to be used in future notebooks and UMPCs.
By using a switching technology that quickly alternates the transmission components of the various wireless modules inside the device, it's possible to completely minimise interference between competing components and, at the same time, provide a transparent user experience.
Timing the use of the various radios allows the devices to operate and transmit in bursts in order to not have them both on simultaneously and interfere with each other. High level switching allows each one to talk in due process, but also not miss receiving packets and compromising speed.
The Bluetooth specification includes adaptive hopping to different channels which allows Bluetooth and WiFi to co-exist. However, with more radios and bands these specific pairing solutions get harder to solve and coexistence is more limited.
Intel highlighted that mix-matching products only creates further problems and working across the industry means that the interference will be easier reduced, while compatibility is increased. This also means that Intel aims to hold the standard, and therefore control it at the platform level. We guess this will mean Intel will license the technology out to other vendors.
We already have platforms like Centrino and Viiv that do this to an extent, but the platforms are more to do with a branding and use combinations of Intel-only components. What it doesn't mean is added functionality. Whilst this does potentially decrease consumer choice and therefore the free market, it does highlight a guarantee of use. This was also the attraction to platforms like Centrino in the first place and that's what made Centrino such a great success for Intel.
The 60GHz band is set to become a next generation personal area network, products will be looking to arrive around 2011 or 2012 at the cost effective consumer level. Why is it interesting? Pretty much every world government has an area of around 60GHz left unlicensed. This is a very large bit of unused spectrum that offers significant potential considering how cramped our airwaves already are.
60GHz is extremely high frequency, so building a radio capable is very challenging for silicon. Also, high frequency is very directional rather than omni-directional like standard 2.4GHz WiFi so it should be interesting how this develops, whether we see a personal area network inclusion into clothes or items that you carry around with all the time like mobile phones or keyrings.
Discuss in the forums