Freescale UWB pushes into consumer electronics

The UWB standard war is raging on, but that hasn't stopped one of the combatants, Freescale Semiconductor, from moving forward. The company has been active, with the help of Chinese consumer electronics giant Haier, in promoting its silicon in the consumer electronics market. Freescale's UWB technology is based on one developed by Xtreme Spectrum, which Freescale acquired (together with Xtreme's capable founder, Martin Rofheart) in late 2003. What used to be Xtreme's Trinity UWB is now sold by Freescale as the XS 110 chip set. This three-chip solution supports 110 Mbps at ranges of up to 20 m, consuming 750 mW. The XS 110 is priced at $19.95 in volume.

Freescale is working on improving both speed and power consumption. Its new two-chip UWB solution will offer about 500 Mbps with a 660 Mbps PHY.The new XS 660 chip set will be scalable, the company said, consuming roughly 1 mW for every megabit of data bandwidth: Thus, a 500 Mb data stream will consume roughly 500 mW, which Rofheart said is half the power required by the 802.11 WiFi technology.

Freescale plans to announce details of the XS 660 chip set next month, with sampling expected late this year and sales in 2006. The chip set was "retaped," Rofheart said, in order to take advantage of Freescale's 90-nanometer process, which required new libraries and other supporting design collateral. The XS 660 will add about $10 to the bill of materials of emerging applications, such as surround-sound stereo systems or automotive displays, he said. In parallel, Haier and Japanese company Silex Technology keep showing various implementations of UWB chips in consumer devices--HDTV, digital media servers, camcorders and more.

For more on Freescale's UWB:
- see David Lammers' commdesigns report

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