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UWB ecosystem grows with wireless FireWire, foundry deals

Posted: 10 Sep 2004 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:multiband-ofdm? ultrawideband communications? wirelessusb transceiver? jazz semiconductor?

The multiband-OFDM version of ultrawideband communications continues to gather momentum with Alereon partnering with Jazz Semiconductor for a WirelessUSB transceiver. Meanwhile, the 1394 Trade Association has approved the Wi-Media Alliance's Convergence Architecture as a platform for a high-speed wireless 1394 protocol adaptation layer (PAL) development.

Alereon is a fabless semiconductor company developing chipsets around the multiband-OFDM flavor of UWB as defined by the 170-member Multiband-OFDM Alliance. That group was to formally announce the formation of a special interest group at this week's Intel Developers Forum.

Alereon will partner with Jazz for an integrated transceiver for Wireless USB applications which is targeted as the first use of MBOA-based UWB technology for both consumer and peripheral applications. The company will use Jazz's high-volume silicon germanium BiCMOS (SiGe BiCMOS) process to enable what it said will be a low-cost chip in a 7- by 7-mm package. Alereon will also use Jazz's design platform, consisting of RF/analog design kits, RF and device models and supporting documentation.

FireWire over UWB

The WiMedia Alliance's Convergence Architecture is a foundation for the implementation and coexistence of wireless versions of 1394, USB and Internet Protocol-based application protocols, and to allow for efficient and fair access to the communications medium. The 1394TA oversees the development of the high-speed 1394 communications specification, also called FireWire. Its decision to develop a PAL for the WiMedia Convergence Architecture is significant for multiband-OFDM because the WiMedia Alliance has selected MB-OFDM as its medium of choice for communications at rates of up to 480Mbps.

The completion of the physical layer for multiband-OFDM was announced last week by the Multiband-OFDM Alliance Special Interest Group (MBOA-SIG), which also said the media access control (MAC) layer is due to be completed by year's end.

The 1394TA said it will collaborate with the WiMedia Alliance to develop interoperability test specifications and certification programs for wireless 1394. The association's Wireless Working Group and Compliance and Interoperability Working Group will direct collaboration.

In addition, the 1394TA will collaborate with the MBOA-SIG to coordinate the development of UWB and wireless 1394 specifications. Specifically, the 1394TA Wireless Working Group has authorized work on a 1394 PAL specification based on the MBOA MAC.

PAL development will begin this quarter, according to Peter Johansson, the group's chairman. "The MBOA MAC is an intriguing departure from contemporary MAC architectures," said Johansson, "and the Wireless Working Group will begin immediately to design a PAL tailored to it."

While the 1394TA's decision seems to benefit MB-OFDM, it is by no means exclusive. Companies such as Appairent Technologies have already demonstrated 1394 over the IEEE 802.15.3 physical and MAC layers.

- Patrick Mannion

EE Times

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