NICTA's GiFi on track to kill USB cables

NICTA's GiFi on track to kill USB cables

NICTA's new wireless technology is set to obliterate wires between electronic devices

Sick of tripping on wires? A complete wireless network connection between electronic devices is just around the corner.

NICTA’s spin-off company, Nitero, will be ready to ship its multi-gigabit wireless chips by 2011. While vendor's like Panasonic have already introduced wireless home theatre systems, this Gigabit wireless (GiFi) technology can potentially obviate the need for wired transfer of high-definition (HD) data between different domestic devices such as from a DVD player to a television. HD video demands transmission speeds of around 4Gbps, which is significantly higher than what is currently available.

High-frequency wireless technology running in the 60GHz spectrum was a solution, but the equipment is bulky and dear. The NICTA research team worked to overcome the size and price issue, collaborating with IBM to fabricate test designs. The vendor’s complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) process was used to make the prototypes.

In February, NICTA's research team developed a 60GHz spectrum silicon chip using with multiple transmitters and receivers to broaden the transmitter chain. The chip, measuring 5mm by 5mm, can operate within a 3m range with a data rate of 3-4Gbps. With the entire system built on a single silicon chip, the cost will be much lower once it is mass produced. The communication process is not flawless, requiring line of sight between relevant devices. The next step is to broaden the range to 8m and overcome the line of sight hurdle.

Foreseeable applications of GiFi include HD TVs and notebooks and Nitero are already in discussions with manufacturers on integrating the chips into products. The company, which now has a presence in the US and Australia, also has a vision for an array of Gigabit Wireless (GiFi), but is particularly excited about movie kiosks, which would allow the public to download HD movies straight onto a portable device.

While ambitions are flying, Nitero is still on the hunt for venture capitalists to provide funds to commercialise the product. The company’s CEO, Pat Kelly, is optimistic about the future of GiFi chips.

“Just like Wi-Fi got rid of Ethernet cables, we see this new technology removing the need for video and personal cables such as USB and HDMI wires,” he said.

In another wireless innovation for the ICT industry, the long awaited IEEE 802.11n standard is heading for approval in September, seven years after it was first proposed.

The wireless LAN standard operates in uses multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO), essentially more antennas, and works on the 40MHz frequency. A throughput of more than 100Mbps and up to 600Mbps can be achieved.

In July, the working group for 802.11 that has developed all major wireless LAN standards voted to send the Draft 2.0 of the 11n standard for final review and publication. The IEEE Standards Board Review, which will decide the final outcome, is due to meet in September 11. Separate from the IEEE, two groups are looking at developing a 1Gbps wirelss LAN standard called 802.11ac and 802.11ad. Much like NICTA’s GiFi, they are researching the use of 60GHz technology to bump up transfer rates.

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