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2/22/2008
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Aussie Researchers Build GiFi, A Tiny Chip With Big Wireless Capabilities

The GiFi chip can transmit data wirelessly at 5 Gbps over a distance of nearly 11 yards, which could have a major impact on consumer electronics.

Researchers in Australia have developed a tiny chip that can transmit data wirelessly at 5 Gbps over a distance of nearly 11 yards, a capability that could have a major impact on the way consumer electronics, such as digital TVs, mobile phones, and DVD players, communicate with each other, a newspaper reported Friday.

The "GiFi" chip, which measures 0.2 of an inch on each side, was developed at Melbourne University-based labs of the National Information and Communications Technology research center, The Age reported. The high transmission rate of the chip would make it possible, for example, to transfer a high-definition movie from a video kiosk to a mobile device in a few seconds.

"I believe in the longer term every consumer device will have this technology," project leader Stan Skafidas told the newspaper. Skafidas and his team have been developing the chip for almost a decade.

Skafidas and his team claim to be the first to demonstrate a working transceiver-on-a-chip that uses CMOS, or complementary metal oxide semiconductor. CMOS is a particular style of digital circuitry design used in microprocessors.

The chip uses an antenna 0.04 of an inch wide, less than two watts of power, and would cost about $9.20 U.S. The device transmits over the 60-GHz spectrum, which the researchers said is nearly unused. Wi-Fi technology, in contrast, shares its spectrum with other devices such as cordless phones, which can cause disruptions. In addition, GiFi is faster than the average Wi-Fi device. However, Wi-Fi can transmit over longer distances.

The chip is about a year away from being ready for market, Skafidas told the newspaper. As to its uses, the researcher said the processor could be used to transfer video and other data-intensive content between storage and display devices in the home. It also could be used to turn a mobile device into a "shopping cart" for digital movies and other content that could be bought elsewhere and played in the home.

The 27-member team developing the new chip worked with companies such as IBM in the research.

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