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Intel Demos Software Defined WiFi/WiMAX/DVB-H Chip

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 6 years ago | from the all-in-wonderful dept.

Communications 97

Doc Ruby writes "Electronics Weekly is reporting that Intel has developed a new prototype chip for software defined radio. The new chip will be able to handle WiFi, WiMAX and DVB-H digital TV all on the same chip. 'This kind of chip would allow equipment to access the WiFi network in the home, automatically handover to a WiMAX network when you leave the house and also access digital TV on the move, all through one chip.' It's also a proof that the entire class of SW radios that could possibly converge CDMA, GSM and various other radio networks for opportunistic handoffs by a single device, a 'universal radio' that could use content formerly locked into a single radio type."

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That's cool (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21677415)

I have fond memories of using a programmable basic chip in the 90s for robotics.

Re:That's cool (1, Insightful)

ak_hepcat (468765) | more than 6 years ago | (#21677445)

It's about bloody time. Good grief, I mean, I wrote about this in '94 in my digital communications class.

I have always wondered.. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21677435)

When they say 'intel inside'.. is that a secret reference to the inside goatse's anus?

Comments are Appriciated.

Closed drivers (4, Interesting)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 6 years ago | (#21677447)

And presumably the drivers for this will be closed source because of that dumb FCC rule that end-users shouldn't be able to tinker with wi-fi chips because they are a dangerous radio device.

Re:Closed drivers (5, Informative)

JK_the_Slacker (1175625) | more than 6 years ago | (#21677477)

No worries, mate. I'm a ham radio op... and a programmer... I'll have an open source control program along shortly.

Alternatively, I could write support into GNU Radio. [gnu.org]

Re:Closed drivers (1)

Zymergy (803632) | more than 6 years ago | (#21679187)

Software controlled radios are becoming the new big thing for HAMs also. Any plans to write more 'flexible' software for the FLEX-5000A radio?
http://www.flex-radio.com/ [flex-radio.com]
Icom also has a neat receiver-only radio: http://icomamerica.com/en/products/receivers/pc/pcr2500/default.aspx [icomamerica.com]

Intel Chip as universal radio. It is doomed... (1)

lsatenstein (949458) | more than 6 years ago | (#21679899)

The device is flawed. It cannot decode Morse Code. dit.dit.dah, dit dit dit etc.

Re:Intel Chip as universal radio. It is doomed... (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 6 years ago | (#21680919)

i thought that was the job of the operator, not the equipment...

Re:Closed drivers (5, Informative)

MBCook (132727) | more than 6 years ago | (#21677609)

I should point out that I'm almost positive that there is no rule that says this. The companies take that position then try to back it up that way ("well the FCC might pull the device's license if..."). There are valid reasons for this (it would be easy to cause interference for only the purpose of being annoying) and good reasons against (my device means my responsibility, it's an unlicensed part of the spectrum).

However that only applies to transmitting. The is no valid reason why there would be a problem letting you configure the thing however you wanted to receive things. There are a few little bands that you aren't supposed to listen to, but if the analog part was designed correctly that would be impossible (I don't know if any of those bands are that high up). It would be simple to make it so that it's impossible (without modification of the physical circuits) to get RF though the amplifier unless it is within a little frequency set that the device is allowed in.

It IS illegal to make a device in such a way that it can be easily modified to transmit on other frequencies (seen with CBs) and I think it may be illegal for receiving too (like to listen into cell frequencies). Note that there is no solid definition on this as far as I know. You can't make it so it's "cut jumper B3 and you're set", but you don't have to go all the way to "install 12 wires, a chip, flash the firmware, hold the radio upside-down and...". Someone who is more familiar with this rules will surely point out the specifics.

Re:Closed drivers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21678221)

Those little yaesu radio's were great for this, you could pull of the little cover under the two user accessible buttons and program any frequency you wanted to transmit on 50-300.

To help clarify your statement.... (2, Informative)

Khyber (864651) | more than 6 years ago | (#21679347)

I refer everyone else to section B of FCC regulations. If you can't Google it, then you don't belong here. :) In short, a device may not cause interference, but it must accept any interference it may receive due to natural or other issues that interfere with/tie into the operation of an EM-based device.

To put it short, you can receive and listen in to anything you choose to, but to transmit may be a different story. End of simple statement.

Re:Closed drivers (1)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 6 years ago | (#21681065)

There are valid reasons for this (it would be easy to cause interference for only the purpose of being annoying) and good reasons against (my device means my responsibility, it's an unlicensed part of the spectrum).
Isn't that Prior Restraint though? I mean if I want to broadcast speech over the radio, don't I have a First Amendment right to do so?

Re:Closed drivers (1)

expatriot (903070) | more than 6 years ago | (#21681571)

No.

Re:Closed drivers (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 6 years ago | (#21682071)

Sure, of course you have a right to transmit your insane ramblings over licensed or police frequencies! Go for it! Maybe even mess up a few TV stations while you're at it. I'm sure everyone will love you for it. Make sure to mention your name and address.

Re:Closed drivers (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21678337)

I can change the GPS location of my current flight to be -1.3km. Just have to replicate the waveform of the Air Traffic control comms.

Which, I believe, is why they are 'dangerous'.

Re:Closed drivers (1)

Chuck Chunder (21021) | more than 6 years ago | (#21678571)

A plane is not getting it's "GPS location" from Air Traffic control, it will work it out from GPS satellites. Perhaps there are other navigation aids you might be able to interfere with.

Re:Closed drivers (1)

Mathinker (909784) | more than 6 years ago | (#21680637)

Given his obvious cluelessness about the technology involved, it seems unlikely unless he finds some source of reliable information and become a, well I guess the best term would be, "kit kiddy".

Re:Closed drivers (2, Funny)

fbjon (692006) | more than 6 years ago | (#21680925)

Not to mention that air pressure is the standard way of measuring altitude. You'll need a fairly powerful radio transmitter to interfere with that system.

Re:Closed drivers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21682273)

You mean, closed source in the same way the ipw2200 drivers are closed source? Oh wait, they're not [sourceforge.net] .

Now, the firmware is a different matter (if I remember correctly). So bitch about it all you want.

Excellent! (4, Funny)

JK_the_Slacker (1175625) | more than 6 years ago | (#21677449)

But the real question is, can I change software modes and nuke a burrito with my wireless card?

Or, even better, my roommate?

Re:Excellent! (4, Funny)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#21677559)

Why would you want to nuke a burrito with your roommate?

Re:Excellent! (4, Funny)

Chabil Ha' (875116) | more than 6 years ago | (#21677939)

So that's what they're calling it these days...

Re:Excellent! (1)

MBCook (132727) | more than 6 years ago | (#21677675)

Default? No. Not enough power.

However, we could add a (highly illegal and dangerous) external amplifier on the output and do it that way.

I wonder what the resonant frequency of a burrito is....

Re:Excellent! (1)

snowraver1 (1052510) | more than 6 years ago | (#21677757)

I wonder what the resonant frequency of a burrito is....
Well, a burrito is mostly water, so the resonant frequency would be the standard 2.45 Ghz that you find in your microwave.

Re:Excellent! (3, Funny)

toadlife (301863) | more than 6 years ago | (#21677953)

And shortly after being eaten, the burrito causes the resonant sound of the body to fluctuate with ever increasing frequency.

Re:Excellent! (1)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 6 years ago | (#21681045)

Great! I see you learned your science from comic books and Doctor Who just like me. Finally I have someone to talk to.

When do you think we will get the first superheros from this device? Will they arrive in time to stop the supervillains?

Re:Excellent! (1)

Molochi (555357) | more than 6 years ago | (#21682727)

I saw Fartman comics years ago.

Re:Excellent! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21677679)

Mod parent -1, Child beater

Re:Excellent! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21682639)

No need to go to such extremes. I have in my possession a wireless router with a severe RF problem, in that it irritates people around it. Affects them in the head. Causes fights. That sort of thing.

A-B comparison showed anyone nearby immediately became agitated when the device was on, and calmed down when it was turned off. Behind a wall where nobody could see the router, they could still tell when it was on because they suddenly wanted to kill the guy standing next to them.

Rather an interesting bit of kit once I sorted out why my housemates were always fighting, and why they stopped the moment I got a better router. Had to get a new router because the defective one was crap as a wifi device. Worthless. Of course, because it's WAY out of spec. Very ugly emissions. It came to me as a factory refurb so who knows what the hell they did to it.

Anyway, I did not turn in this device to the feds because it's a nice RF weapon. Small. Innocent looking. Never know when I might need to deploy it above my boss's cubicle or aim it at my neighbors house or something. The uses are endless.

So what you need to do, if you want to fry YOUR roomie, is get yourself a broken wifi router and let it loose. It may mess with you too so be careful.

Re:Excellent! (1)

mycall (802802) | more than 6 years ago | (#21713918)

Can I buy this router off you? I know some haight/ashberry hippies downstairs I want to fuck with.

Cool (1)

rrohbeck (944847) | more than 6 years ago | (#21677457)

Will it be documented so we can get a FOSS driver?

Re:Cool (3, Informative)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 6 years ago | (#21677579)

Short Answer No.
To get FCC approval these devices will have to be not "modifiable" by the end user.

Re:Cool (1)

rlwhite (219604) | more than 6 years ago | (#21678039)

I'm curious to see how long that policy lasts if the Google-backed "any device, any app" proposal wins. The market seems to be headed in that direction with the recent announcements from Verizon and AT&T.

Re:Cool (1)

darthflo (1095225) | more than 6 years ago | (#21681453)

The Google proposal is limited to the 700 MHz spectrum being auctioned off. There's not going to be any "any device, any app" going on in GSM/CDMA/FM/Ham/CB or any other licensed bands policy more than there is today.
Just like today, nobody is going to stop you from building your own or tinkering with pre-built tools as long as you're not selling them and aren't causing any interference. If you are, the FCC is just as probable to come around and "talk" as they are now.

Also believed to... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21677465)

The chip is also believed to lay golden eggs and make coffee. I think I'll remain sceptic until they actually demonstrate convergence of a wide range of frequencies without using too much power.

Winmodem? (4, Insightful)

solafide (845228) | more than 6 years ago | (#21677471)

Will these chips end up like Winmodems? no intelligence in the chip and impossible to get drivers for?

Re:Winmodem? (1)

Maximilianop (903017) | more than 6 years ago | (#21677539)

That, would be the worst move ever done in the history of computers...
Once again, history shows historic errors have been repetead time and time again.

Finally, WTF?? No Bluetooth??

Re:Winmodem? (1)

Chuck Chunder (21021) | more than 6 years ago | (#21677981)

Finally, WTF?? No Bluetooth??
It probably just isn't mentioned. Bluetooth and WiFi are already commonly done on one chip.

Re:Winmodem? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21678297)

That's interesting, though evidently not *that* common. Bluetooth is one of the key differences between the iPhone and the iPod Touch.

Re:Winmodem? (1)

vux984 (928602) | more than 6 years ago | (#21678567)

And you can use both at the same time? I just want to be clear on that point. Because a cellphone that can switch from GSM to CDMA etc would be useful... and it doesn't need to do both at once... but I'd sort of expect to do wifi and use my mouse at the same time...

Re:Winmodem? (1)

Maximilianop (903017) | more than 6 years ago | (#21679137)

I certainly wouldn't like to have a TCP packet lost each time I press a key on my keyboard :)

Re:Winmodem? (1)

Fex303 (557896) | more than 6 years ago | (#21683829)

I certainly wouldn't like to have a TCP packet lost each time I press a key on my keyboard :)
In that case, I suggest you avoid using Comcast for your ISP.

Re:Winmodem? (1)

Chuck Chunder (21021) | more than 6 years ago | (#21679181)

Yes, if you buy a laptop (or mobile phone) with WiFi and Bluetooth they'll almost certainly be run off one chip these days.

Re:Winmodem? (1)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 6 years ago | (#21679623)

Did you see 2.4ghz? Bluetooth works within roughly the same channel grouping as 802.11b/g. It uses frequency hopping, and in many implementations is good for about 10m so it's somewhat impractical for what they're trying to do. There are other Bluetooth classes that both have a larger range, and also a slightly better data rate. But you don't want them, so I wouldn't worry about the lack of an implementation. Worse: Bluetooth is low-power (hence the short range, incl standby modes, etc) and must be bonded with devices, thus not freely allowing its use in a MAN, but maybe a LAN, but more preferred: a PAN.

Re:Winmodem? (2, Insightful)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 6 years ago | (#21681081)

Actually, Winmodems aren't a bad idea per se. They are cheaper to make than full modems, and you don't need to update the hardware much when new modulation standards appear since they are basically a soundcard. Microsoft basically worked out they could make something that hardware manufacturers would like because it was cheap. And rival OS vendors would hate it since the specification wasn't published.

Re:Winmodem? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21682749)

Uh, except that a 32kbps winmodem wasn't upgraded to 56kbps, what would be the benefit of that for the manufacturer? If it could be done software only, they'd still sell you a new one (that had only a bit more of cost due to software). It's not the customer that wins, at all.

Re:Winmodem? (1)

PastaLover (704500) | more than 6 years ago | (#21737412)

The only thing we learn from history is that we don't learn from history at all.
[citation-needed]

They sound much more interesting than Winmodems (3, Insightful)

Chuck Chunder (21021) | more than 6 years ago | (#21677965)

So there's a much better chance that some of the clever people capable of reverse engineering this sort of stuff will make the effort to do so.

the craziness does not have to continue! (1)

Erpo (237853) | more than 6 years ago | (#21679507)

It has nothing to do with "win"modems or reverse engineering ability. The difference between a good old hardware modem and a "win"modem is that one follows a standard and the other doesn't.

An external hardware modem is a serial device (standard) that obeys the AT command set (standard). An internal hardware modem behaves like a serial port card (standard) with an attached device that obeys the AT command set (standard).

The only problem with "win"modems is that there's no baseline standard for talking to an ADC/DAC for a phone line, but there's no reason it has to be that way! Remember seeing "NE2000 compatible" in the advertisements for NICs? Instead of making 100s of different NICs that all behaved differently and required their own software drivers, NIC makers all constructed their hardware so that it would behave like a NE2000 ethernet card. Then one driver can work with all the devices. VGA for video? USB mass storage for thumbdrives and external HDDs? All examples of hardware being designed around a standard so that the OS only has to have a single driver to interface with the same class of hardware from any manufacturer.

Re:the craziness does not have to continue! (2, Informative)

jamesh (87723) | more than 6 years ago | (#21681321)

Instead of making 100s of different NICs that all behaved differently and required their own software drivers, NIC makers all constructed their hardware so that it would behave like a NE2000 ethernet card.

That's almost how it happened. Novell used National Semiconductors sample design for how a bare minimum card based on it's 8390 ethernet controller could be constructed. Then everyone else copied it too. I don't think it was done for compatibility reasons, it just saved you doing design work. It was also pretty sucky in terms of throughput and CPU usage.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NE2000 [wikipedia.org]

Re:the craziness does not have to continue! (1)

Erpo (237853) | more than 6 years ago | (#21681487)

Thank you for clarifying the details. Facts are always important. Still, whether or not compatibility was the intended result, the flood of NE2000-compatible NICs is evidence that two devices doing the same kind of job but from different manufacturers can use the same driver.

Your less direct point about a standardized hardware model preventing efficiency gains is an important one. I think compatibility is more important than performance in this case, but others are of course free to disagree.

Re:the craziness does not have to continue! (1)

Bryan K. Feir (11060) | more than 6 years ago | (#21693960)

Oh, and it got worse... the ISA version of the NE2000 was annoying enough, that was just Novell being cheap when they did the original design, since they were more interested in the software end of networking anyway. But whoever thought it was a bright idea to create a PCI clone of the NE2000 should be shot, as there were far better ways of handling things on PCI. The cheap network card I got when signing up for my ADSL line was a RealTek 8390, which is a PCI NE2000 clone with just enough differences to make life interesting.

Damn, wish I could find Donald Becker's original comments on that, but www.scyld.com seems to redirect to Penguin Computing now.

Re:Winmodem? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21680387)

The "software" in "software defined radio" has more to do with DSP than it does Windows drivers.

Uh, not quite (5, Informative)

Ancient_Hacker (751168) | more than 6 years ago | (#21677485)

Uh, not quite.

There are still a few stages in the receiving chain that have to be analog.

In particular the first few stages of input filtering, RF amplification, and mixing all HAVE to be analog, and delicate, tricky analog at that.

Someday we may have 5Gig sample/second 32-bit floating-point A/D converters with microvolt sensitivity, but until then radio receivers can't be quite as flexible as the term "software defined radio" implies.

Re:Uh, not quite (0, Offtopic)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 6 years ago | (#21677587)

How much closer can FPGAs get us?

Re:Uh, not quite (1)

jabuzz (182671) | more than 6 years ago | (#21677703)

I thought we already did, just not a price point, size or power consumption that is anywhere remotely practical for everyday electronic items.

Sure if you have a couple million dollars to blow on your next particle detector that you are going to stick in front of your billion dollar accelerator, and can take a couple of U's up in a rack that is not going to be a problem. Back in the everyday world it is still a pipe dream.

Re:Uh, not quite (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21679361)

Forget the lack of an RF front end - this digital chip itself is really no big deal. All three of these standards use essentially the same modulation scheme (OFDM), and require similar hardware in the modem (which is what this chip is). All three standards us modems based on FFTs and IFFTs engines, have similar channel equalization schemes, etc. I don't see how this demonstrates anything new or interesting.

Re:Uh, not quite (1)

imgod2u (812837) | more than 6 years ago | (#21684635)

Those analog portions can be configurable via digital control. For instance, the filter frequency range of the receive input filter can be configured using programmable registers and a DAC to offer fairly fine-grain control (let's say 32-bit) of the resistance of an RC filter. The RF amplifier's gain can be adjusted using digital controls as well. Mixing can be done using parallel A/D's that sample in lockstep and then digitally mixed and modulated later.

All of this injects noise of course but if you don't hit your noise ceiling (or keep your digital stuff gated such that signals only change during the initial configuration) and move all of the signal processing away (physically) from the RF portion, you can minimize noise and still have a configurable RF receiver.

This is actually done, just not in mass production (on the scale Intel would like), by quite a few companies. ST Micro comes to mind.

ettus USRP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21677501)

http://www.ettus.com/ [ettus.com]
http://www.gnuradio.com/trac [gnuradio.com]

a USRP (or soon to be released USRP 2) with a 2.4 GHz card will do the same..

Re:ettus USRP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21677735)

sorry, make that
http://www.gnuradio.org/trac [gnuradio.org]

Re:ettus USRP (3, Insightful)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 6 years ago | (#21678529)

OK, but does the USRP (or even v2) fit on a 24mm^2 chip drawing 80mW for 52Mbps?

Cell Companies (3, Insightful)

Adambomb (118938) | more than 6 years ago | (#21677519)

With a resounding cry of "Ahhhhh crap." from carriers relying on clients using only their devices.

"You need to replace your phone? well then you can sign a new contract for a discount on our new..."

"I already have a device to use for it right here....picked it up online, and its not part of your expected sell/refurb/resell cycles. I believe you know what you can do with your contract..."

Course there will still be the "But don't you want 6 months of unlimited local talking and a discounted rate plan?!", still cuts out a lock in technique though.

Re:Cell Companies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21685505)

Let's see you open a new account without an 11+ month contract from any national carrier. I've tried, more than once, on both CDMA and GSM networks, and have never been able to make it happen. Bringing your own phone is not sufficient. One of them offered to let me go month-to-month, but only if I bought a phone from them directly for $400. I don't see service providers being upset by this at all -- they'll keep doing what they've been doing, and they might even like the ability to run different network technologies in different regions.

awesome! (4, Funny)

spiffmastercow (1001386) | more than 6 years ago | (#21677527)

Now I'll be able to open and close people's garage doors while accessing their wifi, all with one device!

Potential in many markets for this integration (2, Informative)

teebob21 (947095) | more than 6 years ago | (#21677547)

An integrated 3-protocol chip, if produced for a reasonable price, could be just the thing to spark a new age of computing. Let's compare most "movie-future" computers to this: Easy wireless access almost anywhere you go, plus reception of live digital TV broadcasts. Sounds like the movies to me!! Granted -- the chip doesn't appear to be a ATSC decoder (I could be wrong) so current US broadcasters won't have their digital signals accessible by this chip. Additionally, wireless access in most municipalities is not existent, and most of those implementations just plain suck. At any rate, we need the hardware base to exist before the demand for "quality" municipal WiFi will grow.

Continue this development, and you may reach the point of having essentially a HTPC on a card, with TV tuning and wireless internet built in. With the new FCC mandates to open up the cable box market, Intel may open the door for competition that isn't a TiVO. And...even if no new companies step up, TiVO would probably be interested in providing Internet and TV via the same box -- something most cable boxes cannot do.

I also LONG for the day where WiFi chips/cards begin coming standard on motherboards; I prefer a desktop to a laptop any day. That, and I am tired of running CAT5 throughout my house to my multiple boxes.

Re:Potential in many markets for this integration (1)

webmaster404 (1148909) | more than 6 years ago | (#21678417)

Except it is an absolute pain to run Linux or any other non-MS OS on them, save freeBSD and *buntu, but other then that, its a total pain to work with wi-fi and with the devices being non F/OSS, most distros won't include them. The curse of the winmodem in the modern age.

Re:Potential in many markets for this integration (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 6 years ago | (#21678559)

LinuxMCE [slashdot.org] already does what TiVo does, and a lot more, by integrating MythTV with home automation, telephony, and all kinds of other stuff.

Re:Potential in many markets for this integration (1)

teebob21 (947095) | more than 6 years ago | (#21680821)

I agree with you there, but the FCC's intent was not to push LinuxMCE. Rather, the separable security directive was intended to open the market for third-party customer premises equipment (cable boxes). After 6 months, no other company has even started marketing a similar device for cable subscribers on the mass market. If this chip and a SDK were released to the public, I can see it finding a home in such a device. The integrated WiFi and WiMax capability adds a feature not available in today's CPE, namely easy Internet access, adding value to the newcomer's product. TiVO loses millions of dollars each quarter...and they are really the only major player in their industry!

Re:Potential in many markets for this integration (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 6 years ago | (#21683157)

The FCC's "intent" (which is always a lawyer's creation derived from what it declared) was to open that tier for competitive access, and to protect it from the competitive advantages of the network retailer. If government "intent" or effective action is to promote a single product, that's called "crony capitalism" at best.

FWIW, this chip is really designed for mobile devices. Especially because some telcos, like Sprint, are (announced, anyway) switching to WiMAX for 4G. For stationary devices, it's not worth the extra expense to combine WiFi/WiMAX/DVB-H on a single chip that also depends on 3 other chips, one for each band/codec. Maybe once the mobile market has paid the appropriate ROI for this device, its price will drop to be competitive with the old standalone chips. Though probably combo WiFi/WiMAX chips will be available once there's demand for WiMAX.

Re:Potential in many markets for this integration (1)

carrier lost (222597) | more than 6 years ago | (#21687448)

Sounds like the movies to me!!

It'll sound like the movies to me when I can use it from my flying car.

This is a great idea! (1)

rsilvergun (571051) | more than 6 years ago | (#21677551)

because we all know how well software modems work, right?

Re:This is a great idea! (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 6 years ago | (#21678629)

This device doesn't do the DSP or any other transcoding in software. It decomposes the 3 bands' different transcoder HW into components, factors out the redundant ones, then uses SW to just glue together the required signal paths. The work is done by HW. Should work quite well.

Sounds great but... (3, Interesting)

phatvw (996438) | more than 6 years ago | (#21677589)

You still have a fundamental problem with radio communications - how to tune the antenna for multiple frequency bands [wirelessne...gnline.com] in a small package. Not an easy task.

Re:Sounds great but... (4, Informative)

MBCook (132727) | more than 6 years ago | (#21677649)

You don't. You put 3 antennas in the device and switch between them. This would be problematic for other things, but in high frequencies the antennas aren't that big. If all three things use nearby pieces of spectrum (say different parts of 2.4 GHz) then you can tune the antenna for the center and put up with the losses for frequencies near the edges.

Re:Sounds great but... (1)

phatvw (996438) | more than 6 years ago | (#21677731)

Indeed. See the article I linked too. Perhaps Intel will make an announcement about a new antenna switch module to go along with the DSP :)

Mid-tex cellular uses software defined radios (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21677637)

I don't know a lot about them, but I've read that Mid-Tex Cellular uses software defined radios from Vanu, Inc. From what I've read they updated from TDMA (using conventional hardware) to GSM (using quite unconventional hardware) in early 2005. Instead of installing GSM hardware at each site, they installed this software defined radio hardware. So, now they've decided to add in CDMA also for roamers; instead of having to add expensive and specialized CDMA base station hardware to each site, they just add software to the control computers (and, possibly add an extra computer to a site if it needs more processing power.)

          This sounds like something Alltel could use, given in the west they run AMPS, TDMA, GSM, CDMA, and EVDO. (Western Wireless, which Alltel bought, provides the only coverage in a lot of the rural desert, and so they found the more standards they supported, the more roaming money they made... since it's desert, they didn't have problems with network congestion or whatever, so they just decided to run all standards 8-) They run CDMA + EVDO for themselves, and the rest for roamers.)

Multi-tasking ? (2, Funny)

matt_martin (159394) | more than 6 years ago | (#21677653)

Turn off the TV, I wanna check my email ! (?)

Re:Multi-tasking ? (1)

RalphBNumbers (655475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21679385)

DVH-H, like most mobile targeted digital video systems afaik, is not an always-on signal. It's divided into time slices, and only uses something like one in ten slices for any particular channel. This is primarily to allow power savings by leaving the receiver powered off 90% of the time, but it might also allow you to use the same radio for TV and WiFI/WIMAX effectively at the same time.

This is as great an idea as an OS that does it all (0)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 6 years ago | (#21677815)

And as soon as I can get my Win Vista quadcore PC to boot, I'll tell you more ...

The acronym is already taken! (1)

pigiron (104729) | more than 6 years ago | (#21677819)

"It's also a proof that the entire class of SW radios that could also possibly converge CDMA, GSM and various other radio networks for opportunistic handoffs by a single device, a 'universal radio' that could converge all wireless device types into a single device that can use content formerly locked into a single radio type." 1) The above is not a sentence. You haven't bothered to say what it proves even as it converges. 2) "SW" radio means short wave. That acronym is already taken.

q.v. onechiptorulethemall (5, Funny)

Inf0phreak (627499) | more than 6 years ago | (#21677843)

Why would you want a chip to rule a mall?

There. It's been a while since I made a stupid joke here. Quota fulfilled for the next couple of months I guess :)

Re:q.v. onechiptorulethemall (1)

jollygreengiantlikes (701640) | more than 6 years ago | (#21686593)

Darn- someone beat me to it... Such a double take at that tag. JGG

Not Really Software-Defined (5, Informative)

LowSNR (1138511) | more than 6 years ago | (#21677961)

FTFA:

This provides all the digital signal processing and forward error correction for these three protocols and the area is still comparable to three fixed function Asics
This isn't really software-defined radio. Software-defined implies that the protocol level processing (i.e. DSP, FEC, etc.) are performed in software or firmware rather than in silicon (and hence changeable on the fly). While it is a pretty neat chip that has the potential to ease the convergence of these wireless standards, software radio it's not.

Re:Not Really Software-Defined (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 6 years ago | (#21678709)

"Software Defined Radio" isn't a precise term. It means "the least HW processing, the most SW processing" designed for flexibility in tuning multiple frequency bands and other (mostly protocol) features. This device is defined by SW running on it which band and protocol it's working in. It's a few steps beyond the trivial case of just switching among a few dedicated all-HW radios with a config signal. It decomposes the 3 band/protocol radios into components, factors out the redundant ones, and glues them together on demand with SW. I expect there's even more SW running than just gluing the signal path together.

So this is indeed a SW radio. Its success will create demand for radios more SW than this, especially as DSP and codecs can run on ever-lower-power HW embeddable instead of the dedicated HW. I'd say that this chip is across the threshold of SW in its essence that lets it be called a "Software Defined Radio".

Re:Not Really Software-Defined (1)

LowSNR (1138511) | more than 6 years ago | (#21678881)

Software-defined radio is broad, but I wouldn't say that it is imprecise. True, the operating mode of the chip can be changed, but the set of protocols that the chip understands (WiFi, WiMAX, and DVB-H) is not. Your assertion that there is SW running is not really correct either. There is no "software" per se running on the chip. It is just a collection of many finite state machines run in parallel to demodulate and decode the RF input. These state machines are immutable at runtime, so this is really just an aggregation of hardware-defined radios which can be activated or deactivated by software.

Re:Not Really Software-Defined (1)

Maximilianop (903017) | more than 6 years ago | (#21679265)

This should be not forgotten: What is Software? A set of instructions executed to obtain a result.

While the term SDR is broadly used on the article, it just means the hardware(radio chip) is delegating the decision making to a piece of software... Not necessarily end-user level software.

This device is just a chip, unless we live in 1970s cartoons you can't install a chip on a computer. You need a controller board which works on the same protocol as the devices comm bus on the motherboard. And this controller board usually have a controller chip which holds the firmware for the interactions between it's components. Thus having the software which controls the radio chip and communicates with the OS level driver which allows for user level apps to "use" the device.

Re:Not Really Software-Defined (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 6 years ago | (#21683025)

As someone else pointed out [slashdot.org] , the SDR Forum would call this device an SDR [sdrforum.org] .

Re:Not Really Software-Defined (1)

mako1138 (837520) | more than 6 years ago | (#21680431)

The SDR Forum defines tiers [sdrforum.org] of software-ness. I've seen the terms used in the literature, so it's somewhat accepted.

Re:Not Really Software-Defined (1)

DesertNomad (885798) | more than 6 years ago | (#21679319)

Of course they're software-defined radios - just over a narrow class. All those standards are OFDM modulation (well, except for .11b, but other than that...). Once you have an engine that can do the data rates of 802.11n and the OFDM subcarriers of Mobile WiMAX, everything else is just changing over-the-air parameters and frame structures. And in terms of modifiable, it's unlikely the radios could go out of the assigned frequency bands, and given the state of the highly optimized engines in these chips, you're not going to be able to turn a WiFi radio into, say, a broadcast FM receiver or a cellphone. First, the systems aren't even remotely similar; second, the power consumption would probably be awful; and third, there's no money to be made by the chipset manufacturer in allowing that to happen. But a reasonable chipset manufacturer could certainly publish open driver specs that would allow you write drivers to manipulate timing, bandwidth, frequency, packet size, used subcarriers, power levels (as long as it remains Part 15 compliant) - anything that doesn't touch on the transmitter certification itself.

werd (0)

mattsgotredhair (945945) | more than 6 years ago | (#21677975)

I wonder how long Apple has known about this. The switch from IBM was a great move!

The concept is sound (1)

rastoboy29 (807168) | more than 6 years ago | (#21678185)

...but the biggest hurdles are more political than technical.  You mean you want to have music contect streaming all loosy-goosy on the whatevernet?  Can't have that!

tagged onechiptorulethemall (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21678327)

is that one chip to rule them all, or one chip to rule the mall?

One Chip To Rule The Mall (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21678473)

Oh wait...

Anyone remember... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21678617)

Those awesome devices people used to use in cars? You could tune them to a wide variety of frequencies and even different bands all in one device! They had access to free transmissions of music, news and a wide variety of other programming.

Oh, but your right, this new thing is totally revolutionary!

from the tagging beta entry at top of article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21680283)

"onechiptorulethemall..."

is this the "classic"
One chip to rule THEM ALL

or as it first seemed to say ....
One chip to rule THE MALL ...either one seems to fit!

Stupid Marketing (1)

VincenzoRomano (881055) | more than 6 years ago | (#21681279)

WiFi+WiMax+Bluetooth+3G.
This is the real need.

i know no one RTFA but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21687408)

"The test chip measures 24mm2 overall and consumes 79mW in receive mode at 52Mbit/s and 72mW in transmit, and links to three RF chips for the different networks."

This isn't really a one chip solution. It's a one chip solution to the digital portion, but honestly, that's not that exciting. Yes, it would be smaller than having separate chips for each protocol but this isn't the "one chip to rule them all" solution. To do that, they would want to merge the RF functionality onto the same chip. At current (and not so current) feature sizes, the RF portion is a significant fraction of the chip area. Therefore, if you don't reduce the number of RF sections, you're not really saving that much. You could probably get similar area savings if you just wait for another generation of feature sizes when the RF portion will dominate chip area anyways.
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