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S'pore develops chipset for fast data transfer

update Local scientists reveal microchip that facilitates transfer of large data volumes at 2 gigabits per second, which is suitable for use in low-power and mobile devices.
Written by Ellyne Phneah, Contributor on

update SINGAPORE--Scientists at the country's Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and Agency for Science, Technology and Research's (A*Star) Institute of Infocomm Research (I2R) have developed a microchip that can transmit data 1,000 times faster than Bluetooth.

Yeo Kiat Seng, the principal investigator of the project as well as associate chair of research at NTU's school of electrical engineering,  explained that the chipset was developed due to new trends in the technology market requiring innovative, low cost, and high capacity storage. He was speaking at a press briefing announcing the launch of the microchip here on Thursday.

Digital content had exploded with the introduction of cheaper, higher capacity storage, particularly the proliferation of high-definition video and displays, and devices are becoming more portable, the professor pointed out. As such, there is an increased need for technology requiring lower power consumption and the ability to share their stored digital content in a "reasonable amount of time", he stated.

The integrated, low-power 60 gigahertz (GHz) chipset consists of an antenna, a full radio-frequency transceiver developed by NTU, and a baseband procesor developed by I2R, he noted. It uses wireless millimetre-wave (mm-wave) technology to transmit large packets of information while consuming low level of power. The antenna is connected to the transceiver that filters and amplifies the signals, which then passes these on to the baseband processor. The latter comprises of non-linear analog signal processing and digital parallel processing and decoder architecture, which is necessary for lower power consumption.

"The mm-wave integrated circuit (IC) technology will enable new applications such as wireless display, mobile-distributed computing, live high-definition video streaming and real-time interactive multi-user games," Yeo said.

According to the professor, the microchip is able to transmit large volumes of data at 2 gigabits per second (Gbps). This enables low-power devices such as smartphones and tablets to transmit and receive data between other electronics such as projectors and televisions without the need for cables for the first time. For example, a two-hour, 8 gigabyte movie can be streamed from a mobile device to a television in half a minute, compared with 8.5 hours via Bluetooth, he elaborated.  

The chipset is also near commercialization stage, Yeo added. NTU is currently in talks with several multinational companies (MNCs) to have the chip embedded in portable devices, but it will be another two years before devices with the microprocessors are rolled out to the market.

When asked which companies might be in the market for the microchip, he identified chipmakers such as Qualcomm, Broadcomm, Marvell, as well as MNCs such as Samsung, Toshiba and Intel.

Asked what is the difference between U.S.-based Wilocity's chip, which touts similar specifications, Yeo clarified that the latter was created for desktops while NTU and I2R's chipset is targeted at mobile devices.

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