Intel Gives Glimpse of Wireless Nirvana

However, world where any mobile device can connect into any wireless spectrum at any time is still years away.

SANTA CLARA, Calif.—Kevin Kahn has a clear vision of what a "grand and glorious nirvana" looks like: a world where any mobile device can connect into any wireless spectrum at any time.

Wireless devices would be armed with a single radio on the silicon that could seamlessly shift from wireless LAN to wireless wide-area network to wireless personal-area network connectivity, handling a multitude of protocols, all without the user having to do anything.

But according to Kahn, that goal is at least a decade or more away, and between now and then, a number of significant hurdles are going to have to be cleared.

"Ideally, whichever your device of choice is … if theres a window that can get you on the Net, we want to get you on the Net," Kahn, an Intel Corp. fellow and co-director of Intels Communications and Interconnect Lab, said Wednesday.

However, there are regulatory and technical issues that have to be solved first, and Kahn and several other Intel scientists outlined for reporters here what needs to be accomplished for the companys Radio Free Intel vision to be realized.

On the technical side, Intel scientists are looking at using standard CMOS (complementary metal-oxide semiconductor) processes to enable reconfigurable radio capabilities built onto the silicon. In the companys Reconfigurable Radio Architecture, multiple wireless protocols, such as 802.11a, b and g, would be supported over multiple frequencies to enable devices to connect wirelessly regardless of the form of communication or the network.

"If we can put a radio in every chip … you can create an environment where you have hundreds and thousands of wireless devices interconnected," said Steve Pawlowski, an Intel fellow and co-director of the Communications and Interconnect Lab.