Faster Bluetooth on Deck

The Bluetooth SIG has developed a higher-speed version of the wireless technology that should hit the market next year.

The Bluetooth Special Interest Group has developed a faster version of the wireless personal area networking technology.

The prototype specification, known as Bluetooth EDR (Enhanced Data Rate), was announced on Tuesday at the 2004 Wireless Connectivity Show in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. It is expected to be finalized later this year, and will appear in products sometime in 2005. Although the SIG did not divulge the actual data rate for the specification, Cambridge Silicon Radio said that it has developed a prototype chip based on the technology that will run at 2.1 M bps.

Bluetooth has emerged as a standard feature on mobile phones within the European and Asian markets; the technology is used to sync phones with PDAs and other computing devices. As more phones integrate multimedia devices such as digital cameras, the EDR extension to Bluetooth will help speed file transfers and dramatically cut power consumption by reducing the active time of the Bluetooth radio.

According to the Bluetooth SIG, worldwide shipments of Bluetooth products now exceed 2 million per week, nine months after the technology passed the one-million-per-week mark. Over 150 million Bluetooth-equipped devices have shipped to date, said Stuart Carlaw, an analyst with IMS Research, of Wellingborough, England.

"People are now seeing that Bluetooth wireless technology is not a geeky toy or a corporate luxury, but rather the only short-range, global standard for linking wireless products in a convenient and easy to use way," said Anders Edlund, marketing director of the Bluetooth SIG, in a statement.

/zimages/6/28571.gifClick here to find out why eWEEK Labs Jason Brooks is pulling for Bluetooth.

Meanwhile, CSR officially announced its next-generation BlueCore 4 chip, which the company said is compliant with the new Bluetooth EDR specification. The company is sampling one version of the chip now, with production slated for the fourth quarter of this year, when the draft specification is scheduled to be finalized.

The BlueCore 4 chip runs at 2.1 M bps, compared with 721 K bps for Bluetooth 1.2 products. CSR officials said the higher data rate will open up new applications for the technology, allowing Bluetooth to migrate from slower inkjet printers to higher-speed laserjet printers as well.

BlueCore 4 maintains backward compatibility with current Bluetooth products by using the same symbol rate and packet timing, increasing the data rate by packing more bits within each packet through a new phase-shift keying modulation scheme.

CSRs BlueCore 4 will ship in two versions, one integrating flash memory, and another using flash ROM.

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