Samsung laptop uses MIMO wireless technology

Samsung's X20 laptops will soon ship with Airgo Networks' MIMO wireless chip, a fast next-generation wireless networking technology.

Samsung Electronics will ship its X20 notebook with an embedded wireless LAN (WLAN) chip from Airgo Networks that allows users to speed up wireless connections, Airgo announced Wednesday at Computex.

Airgo has designed a WLAN chipset that uses MIMO (multiple input multiple output) technology to amplify the speed and range of wireless networks. Samsung's X20 laptop PCs will come with Airgo's True MIMO chipset, which works with 802.11a/b/g networks but allows users to connect to WLANs at faster speeds than with current technology, Airgo said in a press release.

MIMO technology improves WLAN speed and range by sending and receiving multiple streams of data over a single channel using two or more antennas. Airgo's MIMO technology enables WLAN connection speeds up to 108M bps (bits per second), according to the company, although real-world connection speeds generally fall short of what WLAN vendors promise.

MIMO technology is slated to become part of 802.11n, the successor to the current crop of WLAN standards that is currently under debate by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE). However, the standards body has yet to reach agreement on exactly what type of MIMO technology will become part of the standard, prompting access point vendors to ship products with MIMO technology without waiting for the standard.

Airgo is advancing one type of MIMO technology before the IEEE, while a group called TGn Sync, composed of companies such as Intel Corp. and Atheros Communications, is pushing a different flavor of MIMO technology. WLAN connections using the 802.11n standard could reach several hundred megabits per second, according the two main proposals.

Even though the standard has not been finalized, laptops and access points with MIMO technology will see improved performance over regular 802.11a/b/g networks because of the multiple antennas, said Will Strauss, principal analyst with Forward Concepts in Tempe, Arizona.

"If you only have MIMO at one end, you've still got two antennas picking up the signal, which improves the signal," Strauss said. The multiple antennas also help a signal break through interference on the transmit side, he said.

If you have MIMO technology on both ends of the connection, the transfer speeds can approach several hundred megabits per second, depending on your environment, Strauss said. These types of speeds are expected to arrive along with the final 802.11n standard, he said.

Samsung sells its notebook PCs throughout Europe and Asia, but a Samsung spokesman based in the U.S. did not have information about where or when the MIMO-equipped X20 laptops would be available. The laptops will not be sold in the U.S., he said.

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Tom Krazit

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