IBM researchers said Feb. 6 that they have created a low-power chip set that will compete with Ultra-Wideband technology, offering data rates at around 630M bps.
The chip set conforms to the IEEE 802.15.3c specification, which IBM refers to as “millimeter wave” or “mmWave” technology. Using unlicensed spectrum around the 60GHz range in the United States and Japan, the 630M-bps mmWave technology demonstrated by IBM can transfer high-throughput content across distances of up to 10 meters.
IBM said that it had fabricated a prototype chip set—including the receiver, the transmitter, and two antennas, occupying the area of a dime. IBM used silicon germanium to manufacture the chips, a higher-performance but typically more expensive manufacturing process than the CMOS processes used by microprocessors and graphics chips.
“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, in a statement. “This new technology has the capability to reduce or eliminate this download divide, realizing the full potential of wireless communications and changing the way we live.”
The technology will compete with UWB, whose fractured standards process caused the two competing groups to agree to disagree and resolve the standards process in the marketplace, and not within the IEEE body. UWB proponents say that UWB can transfer about 480M bps at distances of about 10 meters, but that proprietary versions can increase that up to a gigabit per second.