Wisair Announces New UWB Chip

By Jeff Goldman

April 14, 2005

The company's latest improves on its first generation in what it hopes gives another boost to the WiMedia-MBOA ultrawideband camp.

Last week, ultrawideband (UWB) solutions provider Wisair announced the release of its second generation WiMedia-MBOA-based chip, the 502, saying that this release makes Wisair the first UWB provider to embark on pre-production. The 502 chip is now available for shipment to customers.

Wisair's first MBOA-compliant silicon, the 501 chip, was released just over a year ago and shipped to over 35 industry customers. The 502 chip improves upon both the power consumption and the size of the 501. It was developed using IBM's 0.18um SiGe (Silicon Germanium) BiCMOS technology, which Serdar Yurdakul, Wisair's director of Business Development and Marketing, says gives the chip an advantage in terms of both power consumption and performance.

Following last month's merger of the WiMedia Alliance and the MultiBand OFDM Alliance Special Interest Group, Yurdakul says, this announcement gives MultiBand OFDM technology another boost over the competing UWB technology, DS-UWB. "It provides better performance, it has more flexibility from a spectrum usage point of view, and it's supported by a dozen-plus silicon companies," he says.

The 502 chip supports both TFI (time-frequency interleaving) and FFI (fixed-frequency interleaving) modes, is capable of supporting two antennas simultaneously in order to improve performance, and occupies spectrum between 3.1 GHz and 4.8 GHz with three sub-bands of 528 MHz each.

"We support both frequency hopping and non-hopping capabilities in all three bands," Yurdakul says.

The chip also incorporates internal filtering to minimize interference with other wireless technologies such as Bluetooth and 802.11a/b/g. The concern, Yurdakul says, isn't that UWB will interfere with the other technologies, but that they will degrade the performance of the UWB chip. "We're in the defensive mode in this case, protecting our reception," he says. "So we have rejection capability for 802.11a, b, and g and Bluetooth so that, even if they are extremely close antenna-to-antenna, our performance will not be impacted."

Regardless of what eventually results from the IEEE's ongoing efforts towards a UWB standard, Yurdakul says, Wisair will move ahead with its products.

"We are dedicated to IEEE, and so we are continuing to go, at great expense, to IEEE meetings," he says. "Hopefully, that will yield a standard in favor of MultiBand OFDM. However, our customer base says that they cannot wait if that process takes another year or two—so WiMedia will be publishing its standard on PHY and also on MAC. And we will continue making that a standard, hopefully through IEEE. If that takes much longer than expected, though, then the same standards will be available—through WiMedia."

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