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Chip Design Authors: Jason Bloomberg, Trevor Bradley, David Strom

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Chip Design: Article

60 GHz Wireless Standard Promises Ultra-Fast Applications

Potential to improve connectivity spans applications

Ultra-high-speed wireless connectivity - capable of transferring 15 gigabits of data per second over short distances - has taken a significant step toward reality. A recent decision by an international standards group could help bring this technology to market soon.

Short-distance 60 gigahertz ( GHz ) technology could offer many benefits to bandwidth-hungry applications such as high-definition video and high-capacity data storage. The new standard would support extremely fast wireless peer-to-peer connectivity, PC connectivity and High-Definition Multimedia Interface ( HDMI ) cable replacement.

Among the many potential 60 GHz applications are virtually wireless desktop-computer setups and data centers, wireless home DVD systems, in-store kiosks that transfer movies to handheld devices in seconds, and the potential to move gigabytes of photos or video from a camera to a PC almost instantly.

Industry group Ecma International recently announced a worldwide standard for the radio frequency ( RF ) technology that makes 60 GHz "multi-gigabit" data transfer possible. The specifications for this technology, which involves chips capable of sending RF signals in the 60 GHz range, are expected to be published as an ISO standard in 2009.

Multi-gigabit technology could also help enable viral communications, including future visions of decentralized, ubiquitous, wireless devices that cooperate with one another to both utilize and expand bandwidth and data availability.

GEDC, a microelectronics design center at the Georgia Institute of Technology, has already produced a CMOS chip capable of transmitting 60 GHz digital RF signals. This chip design could speed up commercialization of high-speed short-range wireless applications because of CMOS technology's low cost and low power consumption.

GEDC researchers claim to have already achieved very high data transfer rates that promise unprecedented short-range wireless speeds-15 Gbps at a distance of 1 meter, 10 Gbps at 2 meters and 5 Gbps at 5 meters.

The GEDC-developed chip is reported as the first 60GHz embedded chip for multimedia multi-gigabit wireless use. The chip unites 60GHz CMOS digital radio capability and multi-gigabit signal processing in an ultra-compact package.

Since its inception in 1961, Ecma International has developed standards for information and communication technology and consumer electronics. Ecma submits its work for approval as ISO, ISO/IEC and ETSI standards, and practices "fast tracking" of specifications through the standardization process in global standards bodies such as the ISO.

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