IBM Boosts Bandwidth With Wireless Chipset Tech

IBM has introduced a chipset technology that will take close-in wireless connectivity to the next stage, it claims, by leveraging higher-frequency radio spectrum to digitally transmit and receive 10 times faster than today’sWiFi.

The new silicon germanium technology allows the chipset to send and receive information in an unlicensed portion of the radio spectrum, which can carry a much greater volume of data, according to Big Blue.

Developed at IBM’s Thomas J. Watson Research Center, the new tech may help cut the cords that connect consumer electronics devices, such as DVD players and flat-screen televisions, to each other. The developers will present a report on their work at a conference in San Francisco this week.

While no manufacturers have been named, several electronics companies are experimenting with integrating the chipsets into their products, IBM said.

The Wired Divide

The new chipset technology will rely on the 30 to 300 GHz radio spectrum, which historically has proved expensive and difficult to exploit. The chipset — about the size of a dime — allows integration of embedded antennas, and can be produced with existing skills and infrastructure, IBM said.

The technology allows both bandwidth and wireless connectivity, bridging the “download” divide that existed between wired and wireless transmission.

“In the past, wireless has always lagged in speed compared to wired communications, making it frustrating for users who want to enjoy the same access and applications regardless of where they are,” said T.C. Chen, vice president of Science and Technology at IBM Research.

Price of Innovation

The technology allows applications that include personal area networks (PANs) for close-proximity office communications, IBM said. It would also be applicable for broadband video distribution, including the connection between a tuner box and plasma screen on the wall.

The application and acceptance of the technology will depend largely on how developed it is, and how it is priced, Mercury Research President Dean McCarron told TechNewsWorld.

“A lot of it depends on just how experimental this technology is,” he noted, “and what the pricing is.” In the consumer electronics space, pricing is paramount, he stressed.

Bluetooth Plus Bandwidth

Still, IBM deserves credit for building the chipset using today’s conventional infrastructure and skill sets, which may impact the timing of its market entry, McCarron added.

IBM portrayed the chipset as a cable replacement technology, similar to Bluetooth wireless — but with more bandwidth, he said, adding that products relying on the silicon technology will probably be in the market within a few years.

The technology is aimed primarily at eliminating the need for bulky, expensive cables to connect tuning and other devices to sleek, wall-mounted flat screen televisions, IBM Research Manager Brian Gaucher told TechNewsWorld.

It would also connect other devices, such as digital cameras and PCs he said. It is expected to reach the market in about two years.

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