[AI] Wireless ways for high-speed file swaps

Vikas Kapoor dl.vikas at gmail.com
Sat Mar 1 23:35:47 EST 2008


Wireless ways for high-speed file swaps 

New wireless personal networks promise ultra-fast data exchange over short distances 

Illustration: NICTA 

Gigabit wireless: The Gi-Fi integrated wireless transceiver chip developed at the National ICT Research Centre, Australia. - 

Move over Wi-Fi, Gi-Fi is here! They are not putting it quite that way, but recent developments hold out the hope that very large video and other files,
can be swapped within seconds, by wireless devices operating over a few metres, in largely unused and unlicensed higher frequency bands.

First tangible evidence 

The first tangible evidence that Gi-Fi (the 'Gi' is for gigabit data rates) might be more than just a neat new acronym, came from Australia last week. Researchers
at the Victoria Research Laboratory of National Information and Communication Technology Australia Ltd (NICTA), announced that they had developed the world's
first transmitter-receiver integrated on a single chip, operating at 60 GHz and fabricated using the complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) process.
(http://nicta.com.au/news/current )

The chip, just 5 mm per side, has a tiny 1 mm antenna and uses the 60 GHz 'millimetre-wave' spectrum - an unlicensed band of 7 GHz between 57 GHZ and 64GHz.
NICTA's CEO David Skellern says the technology will allow the wireless transfer of audio and video files at rates up to 5 gigabits per second. almost ten
times faster than what is currently possible. And the fabrication which uses a 130 nanometre CMOS process, may lead eventually to chips priced as low as
$10.

There are a number of firsts here: One, developing high frequency radio components in a standard CMOS process rather than in silicon seems to be a major
achievement. If the process can be scaled up, it holds out the possibility of low cost, low power chips which are also very high broadband. 

To get a feel for the scale of achievement, consider the best we can achieve with today's incumbent wireless technologies, Wi-Fi ,Wi-MAX or Bluetooth. 

WiFi (WLAN, 802.11) operates in the 2.4 GHz band, has transfer rates of between 11 MBPS and 55 MBPS. WiMAX ( 802.16WiMAX) operates in the 2-11 GHz band
and achieves data rates of up to 70 MBPS. Bluetooth (802.15Bluetooth) whose operational ranges are comparable to what can be achieved by the Australian
Gi-Fi chip, is typically capable of 20 KBPS to 200 KBPS and in its fastest version, peaks at 55 MBPS. Second, this is one of the first practical applications
in the band of what is being known as mw-WPAN, that is, millimeter wave Wireless Personal Area Network. or 802.15.3 to give it the correct designation.
An IEEE Task Group no. 3C was formed in 2005 to develop this new WPAN alternative which promises to harness a relatively uncrowded, unlicensed band while
offering the hope of data rates of at least 1 GBPS and typically 2 GBPS or better. (see entries for Task Group 3C at 
http://www.ieee802.org/15/
 for technical details and future roadmap).

The potential of mw-WPAN for ultra fast data exchange has prompted companies like Intel, LG, Matsushita (Panasonic), NEC, Samsung, SiBEAM, Sony and Toshiba
to form WirelessHD, an industry-led effort to define a specification for the next generation wireless digital network interface for consumer electronics
products. Specifically, WirelessHD has a stated goal of enabling wireless connectivity for streaming high-definition content between source devices and
high-definition displays. ( see 
http://www.wirelesshd.org ). 

In fact the NICTA effort, says its Gigabit Wireless Project leader Prof Stan Skafidas, has been supported by key industry players like IBM, Synopsys, Cadence,
Anritsu, Aglent, Microsoft and SUSS MicroTec, so clearly there is industry interest in exploiting any technology that might boost data rates and drop product
costs, ten fold. an enticing possibility.

Usable prototypes 

In an indoor environment, the NICTA Gi-Fi device ( usable prototypes may be less than a year away) is expected to work over a distance of up to 10 metres.
which puts it somewhere between Bluetooth and WiFi, range-wise. What will it do for you and me? Consumers could typically download a high definition movie
from a kiosk in a matter of seconds to a music player or smart phone and having got home, could play it on a home theatre system or store it on a home
server for future viewing, again within a few seconds.

Maybe, it's not that premature to say, "WiFi, it's time to move over, the competition is here!"

ANAND PARTHASARATHY 

http://www.thehindu.com/seta/2008/02/28/stories/2008022850691500.htm

Vikas Kapoor,
MSN Id:dl_vikas at hotmail.com, Yahoo&Skype Id: dl_vikas,
Mobile: (+91) 9891098137.


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