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Wireless Networking Hardware

"GiFi" — Short-Range, 5-Gbps Wireless For $10/Chip 190

Posted by kdawson
from the can-you-say-giga dept.
mickq writes "The Age reports that Melbourne scientists have built and demonstrated tiny CMOS chips, 5 mm per side, that can transmit 5 Gbps over short distances — about 10 m. The chip features a tiny 1-mm antenna, a power amp that is only a few microns wide, and power consumption of only 2 W. 'GiFi' appears set to revolutionize short-distance data transmission, and transmits in the relatively uncrowded 60GHz range. Best of all, the chip is only about a year away from public release, and will only cost around US $9.20 to produce."
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"GiFi" — Short-Range, 5-Gbps Wireless For $10/Chip

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  • At first blush, it seems like this is a bluetooth replacement, until you look at the cost of the chips- almost ten dollars per unit! Wowza- that means it'll cost $15 to put it in anything.

    'Course, I don't know how expensive bluetooth chips are per unit, but I expect they're cheaper than that- especially with all the tiny USB bluetooth receivers you can find floating around for $19.99 and under these days.

    That said, what else would it really replace or be used in?
    • by TripMaster Monkey (862126) on Friday February 22, 2008 @10:52AM (#22514478)
      I believe BlueTooth's max transmission rate is 2.1 Mb/sec (for BlueTooth 2.0). 5 Gb/sec > 2.1 Mb/sec.

      USB 1.1 adapters are pretty cheap, too...how much are they being used today?
      • by Atlantis-Rising (857278) on Friday February 22, 2008 @11:22AM (#22514868) Homepage
        True, but all USB 1.1 gizmos are backwards compatible with USB 2.0, and this is hardly backwards compatible with Bluetooth.

        In this case you have a totally different standard that appears to be competing not so much in the PAN area but in the wireless-USB area, and in that respect I see it competing with UWB and WUSB. However, WUSB is only 480 Mbits per second...

        That said, at the moment, WUSB seems to be a solution looking for a problem; which leads back to my original issue. Where is this going to come in handy at this price point? Nobody's going to pay upwards of $35 for a glorified USB cable.

        • by samkass (174571) on Friday February 22, 2008 @11:41AM (#22515104) Homepage Journal
          At this data rate, this appears to be not so much competing with the keyboard/mouse/printer USB connector than it does the DVI video connector. Now all we need is some of Tesla's magic to transmit the electricity wirelessly and we're home free.
          • x2, yes, this is going to eliminate video cables. Forever. yay!
          • by DrLex (811382)
            No magic required! Just take apart a microwave oven, find a way to focus the microwaves into a narrow bundle, and use a microwave antenna to convert it back to electricity. There you have it, wireless power! Heck, why bundle the waves? Just put an industrial-grade magnetron in the middle of your room and you don't even have to aim the emitter towards the antenna.

            Small print: the author of this comment is not responsible for any side effects occurring during this experiment.
            • Excellent plan. Just don't ever hold two paperclips of the wrong length in opposing hands in that room or you *die*.

          • by morcheeba (260908) on Friday February 22, 2008 @02:38PM (#22518176) Journal
            I've been working on a totally wireless monitor for years, and I've almost got the solution - details here [wikipedia.org].

            To make it the most efficient, I use a directed beam of energy. I also pre-convert that energy to photons before sending it, so that the monitor won't have to waste energy doing the conversion. I also pre-modulate the signal spatially so that I only send the energy needed -- again, another win for efficiency.

        • by ThreeGigs (239452)
          Where is this going to come in handy at this price point? Nobody's going to pay upwards of $35 for a glorified USB cable.

          This would fit the bill for an idea I had for supercomputer connections. Depending on how it's implemented, a wireless connection 'fabric' between nodes would allow for ad-hoc connections between any two processors, with no central switch needed. While the wireless speed might be slower per processor than something like Infiniband, the potental for 5000 simultaneous full-bandwidth connect
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by ceoyoyo (59147)
          You're kidding, right? Stick one of these in your laptop, then have one that's a dongle (at first) that you can plug into a USB 2(+) port. Instant FAST wireless. Then these will start getting built into things like digital cameras, monitors, etc. Bluetooth is way too slow for any decent digital camera. USB is a pain in many cases. Personally I use a Firewire card reader, and frequently wish it would go faster. 5 Gbps? Yes please. Will I pay $30 for it? Or $50? Definitely. Not that the price won'
      • by dindi (78034)
        If you brought up bluetooth, let me throw my 2c in about the price.

        When bloototh WAS about to be coming, they mentioned 10-20cent chips. Then the dongles came out and they were $60-80+. Any device sporing bluetooth, was WAY more expensive than others (mostly cellphones).

        Now when they tell me $10, I wonder 1. how much a dongle will be, 2. how much an ipod/other player, cellphone or wireless storage is going to really cost.

        Well, if an NSLU2 (linksys file sharing device which is capable of running Linux), is g
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by gad_zuki! (70830)
      Yeah but blutooth is only a couple of mbps and in practice seems to be much more susceptible to interference. The few times I've tried to use it for large data transfers have been pretty slow. Its just easier to grab a usb cable.

      Right now there's a sort of race to come up with a bluetooth replacement. UWB, wireless USB, etc are the things this product wants to compete with.
    • by esocid (946821)
      I would think household wireless routers could utilize this since most small-medium sized houses will have a radius of about 10m from the router, or even businesses that would rather have an indoor WiFi(GiFi) available to customers rather than broadcasting outside of their building.
      • by CastrTroy (595695) on Friday February 22, 2008 @11:11AM (#22514694) Homepage
        Not a bad idea. But I wonder how much at 10 m is affected by walls. I also wonder how much it's affected by interference from cordless phones and other wireless devices. Usually when they say the range is 10m, the actual usable distance is half that, and only when there's no walls.
        • by petecarlson (457202) on Friday February 22, 2008 @11:16AM (#22514780) Homepage Journal
          Walls? Forget about it. This is 60GHz your talking about. Good luck getting it out of the case you put the chip in let alone through a wall, your body, or too much oxygen.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward
          If you're giving it away to your coffee shop customers then being stopped by walls could be a good thing.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by *weasel (174362)
          ... who cares?

          This isn't a wifi replacement -at all-. This is a wireless USB replacement and then some.

          At 5Gbps you'd have enough throughput to put a hypothetical smartphone on your desk, and not only use your desktop monitor/keyboard/mouse for comfort, but to be able to use your desktop's processor and ram to accelerate the apps that still basically 'live' on your phone.

          So imagine a setting where work data is coming off the network, personal settings and user data are coming off your phone, and desktop wo
    • by squizzar (1031726) on Friday February 22, 2008 @11:27AM (#22514908)
      It consumes two watts of power. It is not a Bluetooth replacement. Using my phone for comparison: 1100mAh 3.7 V 3.7V / 2W = 1.85 A 1.1 Ah / 1.85 A = 0.59 Hours = approx. 36 Minutes. I know it won't be transmitting the whole time, but essentially this will be useless in a mobile application.
      • 1100mAh 3.7 V 3.7V / 2W = 1.85 A 1.1 Ah / 1.85 A = 0.59 Hours = approx. 36 Minutes

        Em am I not right in thinking that power is equal to voltage by current, so should that not work out as P/V=I, 2/3.7=I=0.54 giving you 1.1/0.54=2.04 Hours?

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Little problem with your math there. I=P/V, not V/P.

        3.7V * 1.1Ah = 4Wh. If that were just powering the chip, thats 2 hours, not 1/2 hour.

        Now a pessimistic guess that a 5Gbps link will actually get something like 500Mbps of data throughput, thats 62MB/s. At that speed it will take about a minute and a half to copy a DVD image. 2W*1.5s=50mWh, or roughly 1% of the phone's battery life. Seems like it would be perfect for use on a mobile phone.

        This is all assuming their claims as relayed by the media are ac
        • by klui (457783)
          Wouldn't its wattage be a problem on a handset? Current cellphones transmit at 100mW.
    • by ElGanzoLoco (642888) on Friday February 22, 2008 @11:32AM (#22514974) Homepage
      That said, what else would it really replace or be used in?

      Short-range wireless video transmission, for one. From your IPTV box to your TV(s).

      Case in point: at home, we just ditched cable and DSL and switched to an optic fibre triple-play (internet/IP TV/telephone) offer, which is much cheaper. For technical reasons the main receiver box can only be located near our entrance door, while the TV sits at the other side of the house.

      Out of three possible solutions, none work well:
      -laying an ethernet cable in the ceiling is possible, but a headache
      -IP over the power lines is unreliable
      -WiFi, regardless of the flavor, doesn't provide enough bandwidth (keep in mind that the box streams several HDTV channels at once, for instance when recording one while watching another)

      So in our case, the proposed chip and protocol sounds ideal. 10m doesn't seem like a lot, but it's more than enough to cover most apartments / houses, and I expect it will be possible to get signal at much greater distances, with degraded signal. 2.5Gbps over 20m, wirelessly, would rock.

      • 10m doesn't seem like a lot, but it's more than enough to cover most apartments / houses, and I expect it will be possible to get signal at much greater distances, with degraded signal. 2.5Gbps over 20m, wirelessly, would rock.
        Yeah, some type of repeater would be nice. Although if placed centrally enough, 10m isn't that shabby.
    • by bkr1_2k (237627)
      Of course they're going to be expensive in small quantities, but if this takes off, that price will come down drastically, to something more like $1-2 per chip, which will only increase usage. $10 isn't particularly expensive for cutting edge technology like this to begin with, so it really won't make much of a difference.

      I think you'll also find most bluetooth receivers at the $19 price range are pieces of shit that aren't worth the money, and you'll have roughly 1000 times the speed or whatever? (I don'
    • by Zerth (26112)
      I'd use it for wireless(ignoring power) LCDs as the monitor-pc cable is the last holdup for wireless KVMs(although I currently just use a laptop as my KVM).

      Wireless external discs would be another. It's not a huge hassle to plug in an eSATA cable, but it would be kinda spiffy to just stack another enclosure on top of your computer(or just in the same room) and have another TB show up in your RAID.
    • by dave420 (699308)
      What is the power consumption of this chip, though? That's one of the reasons for bluetooth's widespread adoption in mobile devices.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I took out a patent for an electronic device that sends signals and has the number 10 in it! Those bloody Aussies stole my idea! I'll see you in Texas court!
  • WUSB (Score:2, Insightful)

    So WUSB is going to be made redundant before it even becomes mainstream?
  • by xdc (8753) on Friday February 22, 2008 @10:48AM (#22514410) Journal
    How do you pronounce Gi-Fi? "guy-fie"? "giffy"? "jiffy"?
  • by LiquidCoooled (634315) on Friday February 22, 2008 @10:52AM (#22514476) Homepage Journal
    If you use the proprietary GiFi protocol you may end up getting into patent trouble.
    We should create our own standard which does what we need and is not covered by existing patents.

    I suggest we call this protocol PnGi.
    • We should create our own standard which does what we need and is not covered by existing patents.
      I suggest we call this protocol PnGi.


      I caught the GIF/PNG reference, but I'm afraid the new name you came up with for the new open source standard just does not sound silly enough.

      How about "WuffoMax"?
    • by boristdog (133725)
      PnGi? The estate of Burgess Meredith may sue your pants off.
  • A lot going around (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bandersnatch (176074) on Friday February 22, 2008 @10:54AM (#22514498) Homepage
    • by bkr1_2k (237627)
      The fact that the folks in the article actually have something that works. Vubiq says they have something but it's larger, and costs $12500 for a "development system", whatever that means, vice $10 for the one linked in the original article. All the other links you provided are still working on designs and haven't proven any design at all.
  • Routers (Score:3, Insightful)

    by esocid (946821) on Friday February 22, 2008 @10:55AM (#22514502) Journal
    I would hope that this drops the price of wireless routers from what they are now, about US$60? The only drawback I could see is how the signal is transmitted through materials, as I live in a three story townhouse and I have a room in the furnished basement. I have a Wireless-G router that I have had no trouble with but from the article it says it is for short distances /= 10m with a 60GHz frequency. I would assume this is a high enough frequency to penetrate most household materials including any cement or cinderblocks. I'm all for it since most routers today just create a lot of noise and/or interference and confuse the laptop I have for some reason.
    • by esocid (946821)
      That was supposed to be (less than/= 10m). That'll teach me to preview even if I don't use html.
    • This will have nothing to do with routers or wireless internet access of any kind. This will strictly be for unit-unit communication that is line of sight (since 60GHz won't penetrate ANYTHING), can't use wires, and needs high speed. It is NOT a bluetooth replacement or WUSB replacement. I'm trying to think of the applications for this, since line of sight will be critical and there are few things I can think of that would require 5Gbps and still be line of sight. Bluetooth is still fairly expensive to
      • I'm trying to think of the applications for this, since line of sight will be critical and there are few things I can think of that would require 5Gbps and still be line of sight.

        Home theater maybe? All of your equipment can be in a location other than the front of the room, leaving just the display and speakers in the general viewing area (as in seen from guests viewing positions), and the chip(s) could be used to transmit wireless HD audio and video to the display and speakers.

  • "GiFi"??? (Score:5, Funny)

    by gstoddart (321705) on Friday February 22, 2008 @10:58AM (#22514546) Homepage
    Wow, do we ever abuse these words.

    From "Hi-Fi" (High Fidelity) to "Wi-Fi" (Wireless, but the Fi sounds cool and people vaguely know what you mean) to "GiFi" as gigabit wireless, you've basically lost the actual underlying words.

    It almost seems like the whole "Fi" part is now just generally meaning "technology thingy".

    So, is a baker PieFi? A politician LieFi? Someone, please, stop the madness. :-P

    Cheers
    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      From "Hi-Fi" (High Fidelity) to "Wi-Fi" (Wireless, but the Fi sounds cool and people vaguely know what you mean) to "GiFi" as gigabit wireless, you've basically lost the actual underlying words.

      True, but the WiFi Alliance (the ones behind the "WiFi" name, logo, and certification (as well as the "Wireless x" branding), and completely UNrelated to the IEEE) does it because they want to ensure compatitibility between various products. You do, after all, want to be able to connect your Intel chipset to your Net

    • Yeah, GIFI stands for General Index Of Financial Information! Created by the Canada Revenue Agency in 1999, the GIFI is a system which assigns a unique code to a list of items commonly found on income statements, balance sheets, and statements of retained earnings. The purpose of the GIFI is to allow the CRA to collect and process financial information more efficiently; for instance, the GIFI lets the CRA validate tax information electronically rather than manually. Unpleasant...
    • there was a time in the 50's and 60's when everything new had the suffix O-rama. Now it's Obama.

  • Wow (Score:4, Funny)

    by eclectro (227083) on Friday February 22, 2008 @10:59AM (#22514548)
    This thing does so much, that if anything can get me a date, this chip can.
    • by gstoddart (321705)

      This thing does so much, that if anything can get me a date, this chip can.

      Oh, I'm sorry, didn't you get the memo? Believing a chip will get you a date disqualifies you from getting a date.

      The women updated the rules again.

      Cheers
      • by DeadChobi (740395)
        They do that every time we discover one of their rules. It keeps us on our toes, as well as providing them with hours of entertainment as they describe our latest fuckup to all their friends and coworkers.
  • OKay, so I can seriously power up my wireless mouse. What else is it good for?
    • Wireless HDTV (and computer monitors). Imagine a home theater system sans AV cables.

      And wireless 5Gbit networking would be awesome, even if you did need a tiny repeater every 30 feet.
      • by Spazmania (174582)
        Imagine a home theater system sans cables.

        Until you can figure out how to snatch lots of power from the ether, you'll have to keep dreaming about that one.

        Besides, as noted at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extremely_high_frequency [wikipedia.org], 60ghz is subject to attenuation due to resonance with oxygen molecules. How do you feel about watching TV with a gas mask?
  • Translation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anita Coney (648748) on Friday February 22, 2008 @11:03AM (#22514608) Homepage
    "Best of all, the chip is only about a year away from public release, and will only cost around US $9.20 to produce"

    To translate: This is vaporware, it may never be released in our lifetime, it may never actually work, and I have no fricken clue as to what it will actually cost.
  • by eno2001 (527078) on Friday February 22, 2008 @11:04AM (#22514622) Homepage Journal
    ...and will cost $500 to get in your grubby paws. That is until the amazing powers of supply and demand take effect and the price drops over an unjustifiable period of time. The demand for 5G wireless will be huge...
    • If it costs $500, then the demand will probably not be as huge as you imagine.
  • by DogAlmity (664209) on Friday February 22, 2008 @11:09AM (#22514672)
    There's already a gay internet cafe near my house called Guy-Fi, and I think they're gonna be pissed.
  • 2 Watts? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Undead Ed (1068120) on Friday February 22, 2008 @11:13AM (#22514716)
    I don't think so.

    The dimensions that are discussed are unrealistic when considering heat dissipation let alone power conduction at that scale.

    Further, it is a far cry from ideal lab results to real world conditions with the myriad of problems facing super high frequency technology!

    I smell a rain dance - a promotional announcement to attract financial angels.

    Ed
    • My company is putting 600mW through 9mm^2, (switched through on-die mosfets) so 2000mW through 25mm^2 is high but not actually delusional. However, that 9mm^2 is the actual die size, not the package size. I don't know which they're talking about. If they're shady about package size, they'll quote die size, but if they're actually quoting package size then they're a big step closer to delusional.
  • by cerelib (903469) on Friday February 22, 2008 @11:14AM (#22514744)

    His chip uses only a tiny one-millimetre-wide antenna and less than two watts of power

    Typically, these types of networks measure power consumption in mW, not W.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by josh82 (894884)
      "His chip uses only a tiny one-millimetre-wide antenna and less than two watts of power"

      "Typically, these types of networks measure power consumption in mW, not W."

      All right: two thousand milliwatts then, smartass.
  • GiFi? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sm62704 (957197) on Friday February 22, 2008 @11:17AM (#22514802) Journal
    Short for "GirlFriend"? Ok, I was joking there but I'm still wondering what in the hell the "fi" is for. WiFi the Wi is "wide" and GiFi the Gi is obviously "gigabit". The old "HiFi" stood for "high fidelity".

    WTF does "Fi" stand for in WiFi and GiFi?
    • I was told "Wired Fidelity" at one point, touting the reliability of WiFi and comparable speed (initially) to 10 Mbit hardline ethernet..."it's like ethernet except no wires!". Take that for a what you will.
      • by sm62704 (957197)
        Reliability=fidelity? Dunno, sounds dubious to me. I think it was some originality-challenged ass burger that didn't know what HiFi stood for but thought it sounded cool. But I keep hoping I'm wrong.

        TWAIN, now, that's a good one, I like TWAIN.
        • Just what I heard, hehehe. I concur with your assessment. But if it hadn't been some lamewad, I wouldn't have the urbane name of my WAP: WizzleFizzle
    • by tolan-b (230077)
      The Wi in WiFi is for wireless.

      The Fi clearly has been taken from Hi-Fi so means fidelity, which obviously means nothing in this case and they've just made something up that sounds like something peple are used to.

      *checks wikipedia* Yep apparently it's meant to be Wireless Fidelity. Which is a load of shite imho.
  • power consumption of only 2 W

    Two watts of power usage is at conflict with the form factor. That amount of power usage will prevent the device from being used in items which need the tiny form factor.

  • Hotspots (Score:4, Funny)

    by Tarlus (1000874) on Friday February 22, 2008 @12:06PM (#22515450)
    So if local coffee shops offer internet access with one of these, they can advertise that they have wireless G-spots!
  • Bring it on (Score:2, Informative)

    by OxFF52 (1126819)

    While they are the first ones out of the gate with an all-in-one CMOS solution, I doubt they will be the only ones. Look for Intel to have something available later this year (with the marketing power to make it successful). What we need now is someone like Sony or Toshiba to jump on board so that TVs (er, should I say monitors now) and audio receivers are integrated as well.

    I mean WOW... $10 for something that has the transceiver and antenna on ONE single CMOS chip is awesome. Prior technologies requi

  • and create GalFi

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