In 2008, UWB Takes the World

By Eric Griffith

June 18, 2007

Alereon’s new chip supports frequencies galore, giving UWB a chance to work anywhere.

It has taken a long time, but ultrawideband (UWB) may finally have its first chip ready to run worldwide.

Fabless chip designer Alereon today announced that its AL5000 family – which includes the AL5300 Dual Role Device MAC/Baseband Processor and the AL5100 RF Transceiver – runs in frequencies from 3.1 to 10.6 GHz. That covers all 14 radio bands used by UWB across the globe. It supports the WiMedia standard, which is used for Certified Wireless USB and will be the basis for high-speed Bluetooth 3.0 in the future. Current UWB products on the market, like the $200 Belkin Cable-Free USB hub, can’t be used just anywhere due to the frequencies in use and the regulatory restrictions in various countries.

The addition of WiMedia band groups four, five and six, running at 7.9 to 10.6 GHz, opens up the markets of Japan and Korea for UWB – they’ll now have use of 17 possible channels instead of just one (as they do with band groups one to three in use today).

UWB promises wireless connections with speeds up to 480 Megabits per second (Mbps), but with limited range compared to Wi-Fi.

Alereon is delivering alpha silicon samples this month, and expects evaluation boards by the third quarter. Final products won’t be out until 2008.

The current Alereon chips, the AL4000, will only reach products like wireless USB hubs this summer.



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