IBM's millimeter wave frequency breakthrough

IBM says it has achieved a breakthrough in wireless technology which could lead to a new generation of wireless electronic devices capable of transmitting and receiving at speeds 10 times faster than today's advanced WiFi networks (IBM referred to speeds of up to 630 Mbps). Based on a silicon germanium compound, the chip set, conforming to the 802.15.3c specification, sends and receives information in a portion of the radio spectrum which is currently unlicensed and can carry a much higher volume of data. Specifically, IBM's new technology uses the portion of the radio spectrum from 30 GHz to 300 GHz, referred to as "millimeter wave" frequency bands because the waves in a signal within these bands is measured in millimeters. This portion of the spectrum has been of interest for some time, but no practical solution was available to utilize it.

IBM says that a prototype chip set module, including the receiver, transmitter and two antennas, would be about the size of a penny. The design also keeps down costs with the antennae embedded inside the chip set package. Further cost reductions can be achieved by integrating the chip set and antennas in standard IC packages. The new chip would be suitable for applications in 60 GHz technology such as WPANs for home or intra-office communications in the 10 meter and below range. Such networks could be designed to support wireless Gigabit Ethernet, wireless display, wireless docking station, synchronization of PDAs with desktops/laptops and wireless downloading of pictures from a camera.  IBM's new chip is not good news for UWB, hobbled by an irreconcilable standard dispute.

For more on IBM new chip:
- read Mark Hachman's ExtremeTech report

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