Want CNET to notify you of price drops and the latest stories?

New Wi-Fi chips embedded in Samsung laptops

Samsung will be the first laptop maker to embed MIMO technology, which expands the Wi-Fi range and speeds up performance.

Marguerite Reardon Former senior reporter
Marguerite Reardon started as a CNET News reporter in 2004, covering cellphone services, broadband, citywide Wi-Fi, the Net neutrality debate and the consolidation of the phone companies.
Marguerite Reardon
2 min read
Samsung is set to announce Wednesday that it will be the first laptop maker to incorporate new technology that greatly expands the range of Wi-Fi access and speeds up performance.

Samsung is embedding chips from start-up Airgo Networks that use a technology called multiple-input multiple-output, or MIMO, to increase bandwidth, speed and distance range of wireless networks. This technology could theoretically boost data rates to 100mbps, although Airgo executives say it will more likely transmit at about 45mbps. It will expand the signal range to about 600 to 900 feet.

Today, wireless networks based on the standard 802.11g have a range of about 150 feet to 300 feet and an optimal transfer rate of 54mbps, although the average rate is about half that.

Internet speed
Shopping for a faster internet speed?
We’ll send you the fastest internet options, so you don’t have to find them.

Limited range and slower-than-expected speed are common complaints for consumers with wireless networks.

Locating local internet providers

Linksys and Belkin are already selling wireless routers and network interface cards that use the Airgo MIMO technology. Samsung will be the first laptop maker to incorporate the technology directly into its products.

"When technology like this starts getting embedded into devices, then you know it's hitting the mainstream," said Dave Borison, director of product marketing for Airgo. "It's a testament to the fact that people are fed up with an older generation of products that are not as reliable and don't provide the speed and bandwidth they can get with this technology."

Locating local internet providers

MIMO is based on 802.11g and 802.11b standards, but it works by allowing two or more distinct signals to be transmitted over the same 802.11 radio channel at the same time with no interference. This allows more data to be sent over the available radio spectrum than typically has been possible with standard transmissions.

Today, most laptops equipped for wireless connectivity use chips from Intel's "="" radio="" signals="" that="" bounce="" off="" of="" walls,="" so="" they="" drop="" connections="" or="" slow="" down.="" but="" a="" mimo-enabled="" listens="" to="" the="" echoes="" and="" directs="" traffic="" single,="" stronger="" path.<="" p="">

And because multiple radios are used to send and receive signals, Wi-Fi traffic can be transmitted around walls and other obstacles, which had been problematic for older generations of Wi-Fi gear.

The MIMO technology will be available on some Samsung laptops starting Wednesday. But because Samsung does not sell directly to consumers in the United States, customers here will have to wait for an embedded solution in laptops. Samsung has a reseller agreement with Dell in the U.S. market, but those products will not be MIMO-equipped. Airgo said it is discussing similar agreements for its chips with other laptop manufacturers.

MIMO likely will be part of the next-generation wireless standard called 802.11n , which is still being worked on by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers.