Intel readies WiMAX chips for equipment manufacturers

Intel Corp. has begun sending samples of its upcoming wireless broadband chip for WiMAX products to key customers, the company announced at its fall developer's forum in San Francisco.

The chip, code named Rosedale, is designed for cost-effective customer premise equipment supporting the IEEE standard for high-speed wireless networking.

'We're continuing to ramp up through the end of the year on commercial delivery of the chips,' said company spokesperson Amy Martin. 'We're expecting to see the first technology in the first half of 2005.'

WiMAX is based on the evolving 802.16 family of standards for delivering high-bandwidth data transmission over long distances. It is seen as a wide-area complement to the popular 802.11 WiFi services.

Commitments from chipmakers such as Intel and Fujitsu Microelectronics America Inc. of Sunnyvale, Calif., are making equipment manufacturers confident that the components will be available, and network equipment manufacturers are banking on a pent-up demand for broadband access to drive the market for the new wireless service.

Customer premise equipment is placed in the user's home or office to transmit and receive wireless broadband signals at DSL speeds over long distances.

WiMAX is seen as a backhaul or backbone technology for the slower, shorter-range WiFi wireless networking, but also as a cost-effective alternative for end users where traditional wired broadband service is not available.

Rosedale will be an integrated 'system on a chip' that will reduce the number of chips needed in a product, reducing costs, and speeding up design and production of products.

The WiMAX Forum industry group is expected to hold initial interoperability testing and certification programs next year. In addition to making Rosedale samples available to developers, Intel also is working on early trials with carriers and equipment manufacturers.

'There is a lot of interest in WiMAX right now,' Martin said. 'It is definitely on the front burner.'

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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