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SIG updates Bluetooth cores roadmap

Posted: 30 Nov 2005 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:bluetooth? sig? special interest group? uwb? mac?

The Bluetooth Special Interest Group is set to update its roadmap out to the third quarter of 2007, emphasizing interoperability with ultrawideband (UWB) media-access control (MAC) layers, improved security features, advanced topologies and better quality of service.

The first core release, codenamed Lisbon, is essentially complete and covers the Enhanced Data Rate 2.0 version This will be released early next year, and according to Mike Foley, Bluetooth SIG executive director, prototyping of devices that meet the specifications should be completed by the second quarter of 2006.

The next core, dubbed Seattle, will be the first to feature the specifications coming down from the agreement with the UWB community that will make Bluetooth technology compatible with UWB.

"The specification for this core is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2007, and prototyping should be completed by the third quarter of 2007," Foley told EE Times.

With the collaboration, the data rates for Bluetooth jump to a potential 480Mbps from the 3Mbps that is currently specified for the fastest version of Bluetooth.

But Foley does not hide from the challenges that remain at the implementation level to ensure the two technologies migrate seamlessly and how they will interoperate with the media-access control (MAC) layers that are the subject of heated battle with the two opposing groups, the WiMedia Alliance and the UWB Forum. These groups have been battling for long within the IEEE standardization process to get their different and incompatible specifications approved.

"There is a lot of technical work going on for the two groups to come together, but we will have to wait and see how the specifications are written to meet our requirements," said Foley.

"I would be very surprised if we ended up with two different Physical Layer Interfaces (PHY). That would be a problem and would be confusing to the market and if that were the outcome, it could be rejected by the SIG," Foley added.

But he told EE Times the Bluetooth community had a significant choice to make of how to get to faster data channels "and we felt that rather than develop our own high speed PHY, we needed to collaborate with another group, and UWB seemed the best option."

The roadmap shows that the Bluetooth SIG foresees a convergence layer that would be the basis of interfacing between the chosen UWB MACs and Bluetooth's logical-link control and application protocol layer. Foley said this would allow features such as service discovery and many more profiles to be added, so that Bluetooth could be used in many more devices.

Device discovery will be particularly important as the Bluetooth and UWB technologies come together, as this will allow two wireless devices to wake each other up, seek out recognition protocols and establish a secure connection.

In addition to this 'Hallmark Feature' of alternative PHY/MAC architectures that would enable the ability to 'plug' different PHY/MAC layers (UWB) under the Bluetooth profiles and protocol, Foley mentions other features to be included in the Seattle core.

These include multicast, that will allow devices to send data to multiple end points at the same time, which is already supported in the EDR specification; eSCO air mode negotiation that would allow renegotiation and seamless switching of the air mode; and AES security. These would be all in addition to the features in the Lisbon core.

The other major concern, which to a great extent is out of the control of the SIG, is the regulatory issues surrounding the global use of UWB.

"Bluetooth is a very well accepted global networking technology. But as of today, neither of the competing flavors of UWB has regulatory clearance to operate outside of the U.S. This situation needs to get resolved next year, and we are seeing hopeful signs in Japan and even regulatory movements in Europe," said Foley.

- John Walko
EE Times

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