Intel Places Wi-Fi inside Processor Chips; Aims at Solving Power and Size Hassles

September 15, 2012, By Sanjeev Ramachandran

Intel has been working overtime in its bid to integrate Wi-Fi into their processor chips so as to mitigate all power and sizing issues. It looks like the company has at last succeeded in developing a solution.

At the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco, Intel Chief Technology Officer Justin Rattner shed light on a pair of technologies. The first is the Moore’s Law Radio. It is a complete Wi-Fi transceiver on a 32-nanometer scale silicon chip.

The second one is called Rosepoint, which is a complete SoC that integrates two Atom processor cores with a digital Wi-Fi transceiver.

The chip won’t be ready for commercialization until at least halfway through the decade, and it would support just 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi; though versions with cellular data and built-in radio antennas are in the works.

Intel says that one difficulty with getting the Wi-Fi transceiver and the dual-core Atom processor on the same die was preventing interference, as both operate on similar frequencies.

Meanwhile, the Moore’s Law Radio is the result of a 10-year mission by the chip company to digitize radio. It uses an experimental 32nm ‘Rose Point’ system-on-a-chip (SoC) that incorporates a Wi-Fi transceiver and two Intel Atom cores onto the same die, which will let the chip company dramatically reduce the transistor footprint of radio technologies, while improving their performance.

The technologies also represent a drastic, but strategic, shift from Intel up from pure silicon and into other, related technologies. The message to take away is that though the processor is the primary part of any modern piece of technology, the I/O layer is now receiving a huge level of investment as well.

The new technology is an enhancement of Intel’s technology called SmartConnect, which is available on ultrabooks today. Much like in smartphones and tablets, SmartConnect keeps important social network feeds and email flowing even when an ultrabook is in idle mode.

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