Speed: The Name of the Networking Game

Carl Weinschenk
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One of the big stories this week is that G.fast, a technology that will radically increase the capacity of the digital subscriber line (DSL) approaches that have enabled copper cabling to limp along to this point, is coming of age.

That’s not the only speed-related item making news. Another was a wireless test by Ericsson and Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden that achieved a data rate of 40 Gigabits per second (Gbps). Clearly, the need for speed is front and center for many players in both the wired and wireless sectors.

Other news and analysis was worthy of note this week. Here are some highlights:


Charging Without Wires

Wireless charging is a pretty big deal: The ability to power phones without the hassle of cables is eagerly anticipated by everyone, from vendors to end users.

This week, ConvenientPower, with an assist from Qualcomm, brought a system to market that achieves that goal. The platform uses WiPower, which uses “near field magnetic resonance” to recharge different types of devices, each using different classes of power, simultaneously. The two companies are working on reference designs.

Camille Tang, ConvenientPower’s president and co-founder, said that next year will be “an inflection point” for wireless charging.

Faster Wireless

Speeds continue to increase in wireless data transmission, though not necessarily at as dramatic a pace as the 40 Gigabits per second (Gbps) transmission test that was reported upon in this EE Times story.

Using funding provided by the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research, researchers sent data at that speed in the 141.5 GHz to 148 GHz band. Ericsson said that it plans to use the technology to send signals to and from cell towers and base stations. The company worked with Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden on the project.

The announcement was made at the Compound Semiconductor Integrated Circuits Symposium in San Diego.

The Name Game

Ultimately, marketing and branding are not as important as how well a device works. But branding is not meaningless. CNET says that new Lumia devices will use the Microsoft, not the Nokia, name. Microsoft bought Nokia’s phone business in April.

The Nokia name is not completely disappearing, however. It will still be used on entry-level phones.

Making Computers Think

Smart people are trying to build smart computers. Computerworld reports that Google is teaming its DeepMind acquisition with two research teams from Oxford University to work on artificial intelligence.

The teams will work on image recognition and natural language understanding. Seven Oxford researchers have started two companies: Dark Blue Labs and Vision Factory. The former focuses on enabling machines to understand humans better and the latter on building visual recognition systems.

Google has hired the seven, but they will continue to work part-time for the university.

Beyond Silicon

And, finally, comes a story about what comes next. Computerworld says that GlobalFoundries has agreed to buy IBM’s semiconductor business for $1.5 billion. Patrick Thibodeau explains the move and ties it to some pretty exotic endeavors:

In July, IBM detailed plans to invest in quantum computing, as well as brain-like emulation system called neurosynaptic computing. It is also investigating new materials to replace and extend silicon, including carbon nanotubes and graphene.

The story says that silicon is not dead yet, but it becomes more expensive as demands increase. Indeed, these next steps are thought likely to become necessary in about a decade.

Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at cweinsch@optonline.net and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.



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