Intel's Rosedale chip brings WiMax closer

Intel has begun shipping samples of its first WiMax chip, called Rosedale, and the first network trials based on the technology will start next year, a senior company executive said Tuesday.

Rosedale is an SOC (system-on-chip) designed for networking gear that will wirelessly connect end users' homes or offices with a WiMax-based broadband network, said Sean Maloney, executive vice president and general manager of Intel's Communications Group, speaking at the ITU Telecom Asia event in Busan, South Korea. SOCs are chips that integrate several different electronic components on a single piece of silicon.

The chip maker has begun to provide samples of the Rosedale chip to several of its key customers, Maloney said. He did not disclose when the chip would begin shipping in large volumes to telecommunications equipment makers.

"The chip is going out for trials and then we're expecting deployments... over the next 12 months or so," Maloney said.

WiMax, which is also known as 802.16, is an emerging set of wireless networking standards that offer greater range and bandwidth than 802.11, commonly known as Wi-Fi. Unlike Wi-Fi, which is designed to provide wireless networking coverage over a relatively small area, such as a hotspot, WiMax is intended to provide network coverage over a distance of 30 miles (48 kilometers) at speeds up to 70M bps (bits per second).

Rosedale is based on the 802.16-2004 standard, a fixed-wireless networking technology that is intended to connect a home or office to a broadband network. Future WiMax products from Intel will be based on other variants of the technology and support mobile wireless connections, Maloney said, noting that the company plans to integrate WiMax support in notebook computers by 2006 and in mobile phones by 2007.

Intel is not the only company that is developing WiMax chips. Last month, Fujitsu Microelectronics of America announced it had begun efforts to develop a chip with capabilities similar to Rosedale. That chip is expected to be available early next year, Fujitsu Microelectronics said in a statement.

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Sumner Lemon

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