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Motorola unit plans ultrawideband chips

Spurred by the demand for faster data transfer capabilities in media players, digital cameras and other devices, Freescale Semiconductor is readying products designed to allow for transfer rates of up to 1gbps.

Freescale Semiconductor, a subsidiary of Motorola, on Monday announced plans to release new ultrawideband products designed to deliver data transfer rates of up to 1gbps.

The company said it plans to enhance its current XtremeSpectrum chipset products to allow for data transfer rates of 220mbps, 480mbps and 1gbps, up from 110mbps.

Freescale is hoping to address the demand for ultrawideband in gear like mobile phones, media players and digital cameras, the company said. Additionally, the company said the new products will be designed to integrate power-management tools to help extend battery life. The new chips may be used in consumer devices made by Motorola, officials said.

Unlike wireless technologies such as Bluetooth, 802.11b and 802.11a, which work in a relatively narrow bandwidth, ultrawideband operates over a wide range of frequency bands by sending very narrow and low power pulses. Because it uses a broader spectrum, lower power and pulsed data, it is capable of delivering wirelike performance, making it suitable for consumer electronics gizmos that require higher data transfer speeds.

For instance, media players that allow storage of multiple MPEG-4 movies will require 1gbps ultrawideband gear to upload an entire movie in a few seconds.

Motorola joined the ultrawideband bandwagon with its purchase of XtremeSpectrum last year.

The company has begun sending samples of its new chipset to customers and expects commercial shipping to begin during the third quarter of 2004. Freescale's two-chip ultrawideband product, which allows for data transfer rates of 220mbps, is likely to begin sampling in the last quarter of the year. Chips that allow for data transfer rates of 480mbps and 1gbps will be ready for sampling over the next year, Freescale said.

The new products will be designed to comply with the Federal Communications Commission's standards on ultrawideband and with the protocols of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers to ensure interoperability among different companies' product lines.

"As we plan commercial shipments of our current UWB solution, it's clear that a variety of speeds--from 100mbps up to 1gbps--as well as a variety of power requirements and ranges are needed to serve the broad range of emerging handheld, mobile and in-room video and audio applications," Martin Rofheart, Freescale's director of ultrawideband operations, said in a statement.