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Chip Set Developed for High Speed Wireless Data Transfers

Android smartphone (Johan Larsson/Flickr)Computer scientists at Nanyang Technological University and Institute for Infocomm Research (I2R) in Singapore have developed a microchip that can transmit large volumes of data at speeds of 2 gigabits per second, or 1,000 times faster than current Bluetooth technology. At that speed, a 2-hour, 8-gigabyte movie could be transferred in about half a minute, compared to 8.5 hours on Bluetooth.

The VIRTUS chip set, as it is called, uses millimeter-wave (mm-wave) frequencies to transmit data at high speeds while consuming less power. The ability to use less power will make the technology particularly useful in smart phones and tablets, when communicating with projectors or large-screen monitors without cables. The chip set meets the IEEE 802.11ad standard for high-speed wireless networking.

VIRTUS consists of an antenna, a full radio-frequency transceiver, and a baseband processor. The transceiver was built by Nanyang, while I2R developed the baseband processor. The antenna connects to the transceiver, which filters and amplifies the signals. The transceiver then passes the signals to the baseband processor. That baseband processor carries out the non-linear analog signal processing and unique digital parallel processing with a decoder architecture that the developers say is important for lower power consumption.

Yeo Kiat Seng, principal investigator on the VIRTUS project and associate research chair at Nanyang’s engineering school, says the team demonstrated the three components working together in a 60 gigahertz chip set, including a wireless high-definition video stream. Yeo says the technology “will have significant commercial impact, enabling a wide range of new applications such as wireless display, mobile-distributed computing, live high-definition video streaming, real-time interactive multi-user gaming, and more.”

The project began in 2009, and was funded by Exploit Technologies, the technology transfer arm of Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology, and Research (A*Star). The technology has received 16 international patents, and according to the university, attracted the attention of brand-name electronics and semiconductor manufacturers.

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Photo: Johan Larsson/Flickr

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