|Ultra-Wideband (UWB) Technology|
One Step Closer to Wireless Freedom
Ultra-Wideband (UWB) technology brings the convenience and mobility of wireless communications to high-speed interconnects in devices throughout the digital home and office. Designed for short-range, wireless personal area networks (WPANs), UWB is the leading technology for freeing people from wires, enabling wireless connection of multiple devices for transmission of video, audio and other high-bandwidth data.
UWB, short-range radio technology, complements other longer range radio technologies such as Wi-Fi*, WiMAX, and cellular wide area communications. It is used to relay data from a host device to other devices in the immediate area (up to 10 meters, or 30 feet).
How UWB Works
A traditional UWB transmitter works by sending billions of pulses across a very wide spectrum of frequencies several GHz in bandwidth. The corresponding receiver then translates the pulses into data by listening for a familiar pulse sequence sent by the transmitter. Specifically, UWB is defined as any radio technology having a spectrum that occupies a bandwidth greater than 20 percent of the center frequency, or a bandwidth of at least 500 MHz.
Modern UWB systems use other modulation techniques, such as Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (OFDM), to occupy these extremely wide bandwidths. In addition, the use of multiple bands in combination with OFDM modulation can provide significant advantages to traditional UWB systems.
UWB's combination of broader spectrum and lower power improves speed and reduces interference with other wireless spectra. In the United States, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has mandated that UWB radio transmissions can legally operate in the range from 3.1 GHz up to 10.6 GHz, at a limited transmit power of -41dBm/MHz. Consequently, UWB provides dramatic channel capacity at short range that limits interference.
For more technical information on UWB, see the Intel-supported Multi-band OFDM Physical Layer Proposal for IEEE 802.15 Task Group 3a [PDF 5.87MB].
A World Without Wires
Today, most computer and consumer electronic devices—everything from a digital camcorder and DVD player to a mobile PC and a high-definition TV (HDTV)—require wires to record, play or exchange data. UWB could eliminate these wires, allowing people to "unwire" their lives in new and unexpected ways. Through UWB:
* An office worker could put a mobile PC on a desk and instantly be connected to a printer, scanner and Voice over IP (VoIP) headset.
* All the components for an entire home entertainment center could be set up and connected to each other without a single wire.
* A digital camcorder could play a just-recorded video on a friend's HDTV without anyone having to fiddle with wires.
* A portable MP3 player could stream audio to high-quality surround-sound speakers anywhere in the room.
* A mobile computer user could wirelessly connect to a digital projector in a conference room to deliver a presentation.
* Digital pictures could be transferred to a photo print kiosk for instant printing without the need of a cable.
Speeding the Development of UWB Through MBOA
In June 2003, Intel helped form the MultiBand OFDM Alliance (MBOA), with many of the most influential players in the consumer electronics, personal computing, home entertainment, semiconductor, and digital imaging market segments.
The goal of this organization is to develop the best technical solution for the emerging UWB (IEEE 802.15.3a) Phy and MAC specification for a diverse set of applications. To date, MBOA has more than 60 participants that support a single technical proposal for UWB.
The MBOA favors a Multi-Band Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (OFDM) approach. The benefits of this approach include:
* Peaceful coexistence with flexible spectral coverage
* Easier adoption to different worldwide regulatory environments
* Future scalability and backward compatibility
* Use of standard CMOS technology to take advantage of the principles of Moore's Law, speeding development and advancing performance
* Excellent robustness in multipath environments
Intel's vision of UWB radio is of a "Common UWB Radio Platform" spanning many different applications and industries (see graphic). UWB radio, along with the convergence layer, becomes the underlying transport mechanism for different applications. Some of the more notable applications that could potentially operate on top of the Common UWB Radio Platform would be Universal Serial Bus (USB), IEEE 1394/FireWire*, next generation of Bluetooth*, and Universal Plug and Play (UPnP*).
Common UWB Radio Platform
With the standardization of a common UWB development platform, device manufacturers in the PC, mobile, and consumer electronics markets will be able to easily use UWB as the radio or transport mechanism, taking advantage of the low power and high bandwidth this technology provides. Intel believes the broadly supported MBOA, WiMedia Alliance and Wireless USB Promoter Group (see spotlight box) will enable commercial development of UWB standards-based products as early as 2005.