Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Intel Wi-Fi Travels Over 100 Kilometers

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What is the biggest problem when it comes to Wi-Fi connections? The distance; that's why new standards have been created – to allow for the transmission of information on longer distances, and also a higher data

transfer is made possible. The nag of having to deal with cables is also a big thing you should consider, many people actually choose the wireless solution for this reason alone.

And newer chips cost more, and manufacturing facilities give a lot of new jobs and that's progress, but what if, instead of always taking a piece of hardware apart and call it “obsolete”, why not putting some thought into what can be done with existing hardware, rather than just bringing out new stuff, that doesn't always bring something good.

Take, as an example, the AGP slot and the PCI Express, it was first said that the PCI Express interface was necessary because of the bottlenecking of the data going through the 8GB/s AGP interface. That wasn't 100% true when it was said, but nobody took it upon themselves to actually verify the truth in that affirmation. That other purposes have been found for the interface, or better said, that the change was made using the bandwidth as the cover story. It's hard to give up on something good for that which is just as good, but in order for the people to accept the change, it was presented as a mandatory requirement for the maximum bandwidth to be achieved. The people said “yes”, and then they had the chance of actually putting their ideas into action.

Regarding the Wi-Fi, it's the same thing, but under a different “mask”. Eric Brewer, Director of Intel Research Berkeley, was able to bring a new point of view to an “old” piece of hardware, by using “regular Wi-Fi hardware (...) with modified software”. The goal was to take the normal Wi-Fi transmission, which is sent by an antenna on a 360-degree radius, and focusing the signal into one direction. By using this method, they stated that their system can take regular Wi-Fi signal and transmit it to over 100 kilometers.

The alignment of the antennas so that they would communicate to one another is hard to achieve on a physical level, because any small shift in the position would cause signal loss. The solution was to make an “electrical steering”, instead of normal position shifting, thus eliminating any signal loss in case the antennas move out of alignment.
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