Intel has begun shipping samples of its first WiMax chip, Rosedale, and its first network trials will start next year, a senior executive has said. The company also gave details of its plans to make WiMax compete with other broadband technologies (see feature)

Rosedale is an SOC (system-on-chip) designed for networking gear that will wirelessly connect end users' homes or offices with a WiMax-based broadband network, said Sean Maloney, executive vice president and general manager of Intel's Communications Group, speaking at the ITU Telecom Asia event in Busan, South Korea.

The chip maker has begun to provide samples of the Rosedale chip to several of its key customers, Maloney said. He did not disclose, however, when the chip would begin shipping in large volumes to telecommunications equipment makers. "The chip is going out for trials and then we're expecting deployments over the next 12 months or so," he said.

WiMax, also known as 802.16, is an emerging set of wireless networking standards that offer greater range and bandwidth than 802.11 Wi-Fi. Unlike Wi-Fi, which is designed to provide wireless networking coverage over a relatively small area, such as a hotspot, WiMax is intended to provide network coverage over a distance of 30 miles at speeds up to 70Mbit/s.

Rosedale is based on the 802.16-2004 standard, a fixed-wireless networking technology for connecting a home or office to a broadband network. Future WiMax products from Intel will be based on other variants of the technology and support mobile wireless connections, Maloney said, noting that the company plans to integrate WiMax support in notebook computers by 2006 and in mobile phones by 2007.

Intel is not the only company developing WiMax chips. Last month, Fujitsu announced it had begun efforts to develop a chip with capabilities similar to Rosedale. That chip is expected to be available early next year.

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