Toshiba has developed a new 60GHz receiver technology that paves the way for powerful integrated circuits (ICs) for the millimetre-waveband.
Millimetre-wave communication is widely touted as being able to solve the growing problem of bandwidth overlap.
The technology offers high-speed wireless communication in the 60GHz band, a frequency over 10 times higher than that of wireless local area networks.
While communication distances are limited to a few metres owing to the nature of the wave, the wide bandwidth of the signal allows data transfer at more than 1Gbps.
Frequencies around the 60GHz band are currently allocated to unlicensed equipment in Japan, the US and Europe.
As a result, millimetre-wave communication is increasingly seen as the best solution for short distance transmission of high-speed data.
The huge growth of broadband digital content and wireless home networks, combined with high speed wireless transfers of HD video between digital equipment in the home, makes millimetre-wave the best method of transferring the necessary data.
With advances in process technology, complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS) technology is now approaching a level where it is applicable to the millimetre waveband.
The new fabrication process uses a low-cost CMOS process to achieve high-speed, highly-integrated wireless communication over short distances, and will support the development of consumer applications.
Today's 60GHz ICs for millimetre-wave communication are fabricated with gallium arsenide (GaAs), which is more expensive than CMOS integrated circuits.
Millimetre-wave GaAs ICs also require separate integration on the module of an antenna and a synthesiser, which cannot be fabricated with GaAs process technology.
Additional components, including bonding wire and costly ceramic board, further increase cost and chip die size.
Toshiba's CMOS IC integrates an on-chip antenna, LNA, a mixer with a preamplifier and a phase-locked loop synthesiser in a die that is only 1.1mm x 2.4mm without pad area.
Although there are no current practical implementations of the new IC, Toshiba has promised to improve the integration and performance of the receiver IC, and to develop the high power technology required for a transmitter IC.
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