Samsung supports Motorola in UWB debate

Samsung Electronics is to use Motorola's XtremeSpectrum chipset for ultrawideband (UWB) wireless technology to transmit multiple...

Samsung Electronics is to use Motorola's XtremeSpectrum chipset for ultrawideband (UWB) wireless technology to transmit multiple high-definition television (HDTV) streams.

The companies demonstrated three simultaneous HDTV streams from a home media server to multiple displays at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Motorola acquired chipset supplier XtremeSpectrum in December and is sampling the chipset to partners.

With the growing number of consumer electronics companies pitching wireless media adapters and other home networking devices, the chip industry is looking to UWB to create high-speed short-range wireless networks. But as is the case with many cutting-edge technologies, different companies have different ideas about how best to implement the technology, and compete fiercely to have their technology adopted as a standard.

A draft of the UWB standard is already under development by a working group of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the same organisation that ratified the 802.11 standards for wireless Lans.

Motorola's XtremeSpectrum chipset is based on a method called direct-sequence CDMA (code division multiple access). That method competes with a different proposal from Texas Instruments which uses technology called multiband OFDM (orthogonal frequency division multiplexing).

The XtremeSpectrum approach spreads the UWB signals traveling from device to device across the electromagnetic spectrum, from 3.1GHz to 10.6GHz, which is the range approved for UWB by the US Federal Communications Commission. Because the signal is spread so widely, the transmissions are less likely to cause interference with other wireless devices, according to XtremeSpectrum.

Texas Instruments, which is backed by an industry consortium that includes Intel, chose to divide that spectrum range into bands of spectrum measuring 528MHz wide. This allows the signal to hop back and forth between those channels if interference presents a problem, "sculpting" the available spectrum to best suit the environment in which the technology is used, said Steve Turner, director of business development for UWB at Texas Instruments.

Both approaches hope to enable transmission speeds as fast as 500Mbps across distances of around 2m, Turner said. The two approaches have been whittled down from more than 20 submitted to the IEEE working group last year, and the group is to meet next week to discuss the proposals again.

To be ratified, 75% of the working group members have to approve the standard. Texas Instruments has, so far, only managed to get about 60% of the tally in two previous votes.

When a standard is ratified, UWB is poised to become the primary method for transferring data among devices such as personal digital assistants, PCs and mobile phones.

Bluetooth, which is the existing standard for short-range wireless networking, is slower than UWB and is expected to be used for less bandwidth-intensive applications such as wireless keyboards or mice, Turner said.

Tom Krazit writes for IDG News Service

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