Samsung offers first MIMO-equipped laptops

Samsung appears to be the first laptop manufacturer to embed MIMO technology in its laptops. The laptops, available as of today, will use chips from Airgo Networks. These chips could, theoretically, increase data rates to 100 Mbps and extend signal range to up to 900 ft. (Airgo says its chips will more likely offer rates of about 45 Mbps.) 802.11g chips transmit data at about 25 Mbps, and offer range of between 150 and 300 ft. Because Samsung does not sell directly to consumers in the US, customers here will have to wait for an embedded solution in laptops.

MIMO technology will be at the heart of the emerging 802.11n standard. Linksys and Belkin already ship wireless routers and NICs which use the Airgo MIMO technology. MIMO has several advantages over current 802.11 technology. It allows two or more distinct signals to be carried simultaneously over the same 802.11 radio channel, thus allowing for more data to be transmitted over the available radio spectrum. It makes connections more reliable, since its radios "listen" to echo radio signals which bounce off walls and other obstacles, and directs radio traffic to the stronger path (a single radio is more likely to drop the conenction of slow down in the echo confusion). MIMO also allows radio trafiic to be sent around walls and other objects.

For more on Samsung's MIMO offering:
- see Marguerite Reardon's CNET report

ANALYSIS: The Samsung deal is illustrative of Airgo's growing lead in the pre-802.11n market. The two proposals for the 802.11n standard now competing for IEEE ratification are both based on MIMO technology. Airgo, the leader of one of the rival camps, says that its version of MIMO-based 802.11n now accounts for about 3 percent of the WiFi consumer products market.