15 Gbps Wireless!

Research scientists at the Georgia Electronic Design Center at Georgia Institute of Technology are using wideband transmitters operating at 60 GHz to achieve data rates of 15 Gbps. For comparison, this is about 10,000 times faster than T1 data rates and almost 300 times faster than the best data transfer with an 802.11g connection. What's the trade off? The range is limited to 1 meter. At a distance of 2 meters, the rate dropped to 10 Gbps and at 5 meters it's down to 5 Gbps. Still, this is a significant improvement over wireless technologies currently available. For broadcasters and production companies, this would allow transmission of uncompressed high-definition video at rates faster than real time!

Professor Joy Lasker, lead researcher on the project said, "The goal here is to maximize data throughput to make possible a host of new wireless applications for home and office connectivity."

GEDC research scientist Stephane Pinel added that the research is expected to lend itself two major applications: data and video. He said very high-speed peer-to-peer data connections might be available in less than two years. This technology would even allow external devices such as external hard drives to connect to computers without wires.

Pinel offered this example. "At 10 Gbps, you could download a DVD from a kiosk to your cell phone in five seconds, or you could quickly synchronize two laptops or two iPods," he said.

GEDC acknowledged that the I/O system of current devices can't handle these speeds, but it would certainly work for any device that currently uses FireWire (IEEE 1394) or USB.

Pinel said the researchers are working on increasing data rates and decreasing the already low power consumption of the transceivers. The goal is to double current transmission rates by next year. GEDC said in a statement that researchers are pursuing this goal by modifying the system architecture to increase intelligence and effectiveness in the CMOS RF integrated circuits that transmit the data.

"We are pursuing a combination of system design and circuit design, employing both analog and digital techniques," Pinel said. "It's definitely a very exciting mixed-signal problem that you have to solve."

Transmit power levels are around 10 mW or less.

The IEEE is working on a 60 GHz standard that will be called 802.15.3C.

"The promise of multi-gigabit wireless is tremendous," Laskar said. "The combination of short-range functionality and enormous bandwidth makes possible a whole range of consumer and business applications that promise great utility."