Intel promises cheap WiFi chips with CMOS system
By Simon Aughton
Posted on 20 Jun 2005 at 12:22
Intel has developed has developed a new wireless processor that promises cheaper Wi-Fi enabled devices by building a flexible, multimode radio into a chip.
The CMOS chip is not unique in supporting the three current wireless standards (802.11a, b and g), but is the first to do so without requiring additional hardware such as power amplifiers and antennae. These are integrated into the single chip. It also includes all the requirements for compatibility with the next-generation, faster 802.11n wireless networks.
The chip supports variable bandwidths extending beyond the 20MHz to 100MHz range currently in use and is expected to support speeds higher than 100Mbit/sec, which will enable it to be used for high-quality video streaming, which could include TV-over-WiFi.
The result of combining all these components onto a single chip will be lower costs along with the benefits of low power usage that come with using CMOS technology.
Current devices contain a different radio to connect to each wireless network that they support. Intel envisages that future products will contain several different radios so they can access many different networks. The company is currently researching technologies that will enable a device with smart antenna systems and a reconfigurable CMOS radio. The outcome will be the ability to connect to any network, 'anytime, anywhere' on devices that are more power efficient, smaller and lower cost.
'This system-in-a-package design uses more low-voltage circuitry than we've ever used in the past, which means we can integrate it and make it lower cost while operating at lower voltages and providing longer battery life,' said Krishnamurthy Soumyanath, director of Intel's Communications Circuits Research Lab.
'By creating this capability in CMOS, Intel will have the option of integrating wireless capabilities into a wide variety of our future chips,' he added.
Intel announced the technology in paper presented to the Symposium on VLSI Technology in Kyoto, Japan and has yet to publicly demonstrate it, and commercial production of the chip. What are the odds that Apple will be first in line, having recently announced that it is to switch to Intel processors in a year's time? The lack of low-powered notebook chips from its current supplier, IBM, is commonly thought to be a major reason for the decision to change supplier, and Apple has long been a leader in the adoption of Wi-Fi technologies.
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