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Intel showcased technologies for a wireless future

Posted: 17 Sep 2012 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Wi-Fi? Cloud Radio Access Network? 22nm tri-gate technology? WiGig? Video Aware Wireless Network?

During the recently concluded Intel Developer Forum, Chief Technology Officer Justin Rattner unveiled a series of technologies that were designed in Intel labs that aim to push the future toward wireless connectivity.

In Rattner's keynote address, he said, "In the future, if it computes, it connects. From the simplest embedded sensors to the most advanced cloud datacenters, we're looking at techniques to allow all of them to connect without wires."

Rattner demonstrated for the first time a working, all-digital Wi-Fi radio, dubbed a "Moore's Law Radio." The CTO explained that an all-digital radio follows Moore's Law by scaling in area and energy efficiency with such digital chip processes as Intel's latest 22nm tri-gate technology. All-digital radios will most likely be integrated into system-on-chip designs for smartphones and tablet computers. Integrated radios are small and cheap enough that they can be used in various applications such as wearable devices to "The Internet of Things" where devices such as home appliances with sensors can communicate with each other, exchange data and can be operated remotely.

The next-generation wireless standard called WiGig was introduced. It operates in the millimeter wavelengths of the radio spectrum and delivers bandwidths well over 5 gigabits per second. The WiGig standard is an industry-wide effort to consolidate a number of proprietary 60GHz wireless technologies under the existing Wi-Fi standard.

Rattner said, "WiGig is so fast it will let you wirelessly dock your enabled Ultrabook tablet or smartphone... even multiple displays can be docked at one time."

Smart Connect and Spring Meadow
To enable users to receive email and social media updates while their devices are asleep, the Intel Smart Connect technology currently wakes up the Ultrabook just long enough to receive the incoming packet traffic and then it goes back into standby mode to ensure long battery life.

Showing how the benefits of Smart Connect technology could be enhanced to include active operation for file transfer and video streaming, Rattner demonstrated "Spring Meadow," which manages communication between the cloud and the device more intelligently. It works by pre-processing incoming network traffic and proactively managing traffic flow. "Spring Meadow" makes more efficient use of the host processor, reducing power consumption without impacting system performance.

Biometric authentication
In an effort to eliminate the need for passwords, Intel Labs has developed a replacement scheme called Client Based Authentication Technology. It dramatically simplifies and accelerates the process for accessing bank accounts, stock portfolios and other cloud-based personal information.

The technology allows the user to authenticate once to the physical device such as an Ultrabook or smartphone, using a biometric sensor, and then the device will authenticate itself into one or more cloud-based services. Reading a person's unique vein patterns in the palm of the hand, the user is then directly taken to his or her bank account, social network page or any kind of secure service. It also provides presence monitoring capability that locks the device and the secure service connection when the user puts his or her device down. A new biometric scan unlocks the platform and immediately restores the previous secure service connections. The whole process is virtually transparent, easy to use and more secure.

Mobile connectivity future
Rattner was joined onstage by Dr. Chih-Lin I, chief scientist at the China Mobile Research Institute in Beijing, to discuss the research collaboration between Intel Labs and China Mobile to design and prototype a full-scale Cloud Radio Access Network (C-RAN). C-Ran is an alternative to traditional RAN, which is the basis for modern cellular communications. Instead of simply moving the proprietary base station hardware to the data center, it is replaced by standard Intel-based servers running a software-defined radio application. Dr. Chih-Lin I explained that C-RAN technology will dramatically reduce both capital and operational expenses for wireless service providers while providing superior levels of wireless services to users with fewer dropped connections during periods of peak demand.

Another research area, called a Video Aware Wireless Network (VAWN), was also mentioned. It is where both service providers and end users will benefit from the latest wireless research. VAWN is the focus of a joint academic research program sponsored by Intel, Cisco and Verizon. With mobile video traffic expected to grow significantly over the next 5 years, according to Cisco Visual Networking Index, wireless networks could be constrained and video quality limited without new innovations. VAWN aims to increase the streaming video capacity of wireless networks while improving the viewing experience by optimizing network performance on an end-to-end basis.

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