Motorola subsidiary Freescale Semiconductor has outlined a product roadmap that will produce a 1Gbit/s UWB (Ultra-Wideband) chipset in the next 12 months. Meanwhile, moves by PC makers to adopt its current line of 114 Mbit/s chipsets, show that the UWB standards war is far from over.
Freescale's existing XtremeSpectrum chipset can support short-range wireless UWB connections up to 114Mbit/s. Samples are available to hardware makers, and it will be commercially available in the third quarter, the company said. At least one PC vendor has already committed to adopt it.
Taiwanese hardware maker Micro-Star International (MSI) plans to put the chipset in a PCI card that will ship inside upcoming versions of its Mega PC home entertainment computers. The company will also make the card available separately, a company executive said last week at the Computex 2004 exhibition in Taipei.
However, Freescale plans to begin shipping samples of its next UWB chipset with support for connections up to 220 Mbit/s during the fourth quarter. It will follow this with models that can support connections up to 480Mbit/s and 1Gbit/s within the next year, it said.
UWB is seen as an important upgrade for short-range wireless connections, far surpassing Bluetooth's 1Mbit/s data rate, and allowing devices to exchange large files, such as digital video, music and digital pictures, quickly between devices, making it a wireless replacement for USB. The technology is explained in our feature.
Freescale claims that its samples make it the first company with a commercially available UWB chipset (Pulse-Link's chipset announced last month, is still two "spins" short of being a commercial product). The race is significant because there is a standards battle between Motorola and the Intel-backed MBOA (Multiband OFDM Alliance) which has kept the IEEE standards group in deadlock (see this feature. The MBOA proposal underlies the proposal of UWB as a USB replacement by the Intel-backed Wireless USB Promoter Group, also blocked by Hewlett-Packard, Samsung, Microsoft, NEC and Philips.
Freescale's UWB chipsets employ a version of the technology called DS-UWB (Direct Sequence UWB), while the MBOA uses another version called MB-OFDM (Multi-band Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing). The wireless USB specification will be finalised by the end of this year, according to Intel, with its first version expected to support short-range connections up to 480 Mbit/s.