UWB group completes key radio spec

MBOA finishes PHY

The Multiband OFDM Alliance (MBOA) has finished its ultrawideband (UWB) radio physical layer (PHY) specification.

What this array of abbreviations means is that UWB chip makers can now finalise their designs in the knowledge that their radios can communicate with other vendors' radios. The MBOA said some 16 silicon suppliers were working on UWB chips based on its specification.

Others, of course, are working on an alternative spec. being backed and co-devised by Motorola and others. In February this year, the MBOA withdrew from the IEEE's efforts to define a standard for UWB after it proved apparently impossible to reconcile the Motorola-led camp's view of the technology with the Intel-backed MBOA's vision, leading to "deadlock", as the MBOA described it at the time.

The MBOA is currently working on a MAC specification to enable raw data communication over the physical layer. Above MAC and PHY will sit a software "convergence layer", being developed by the WiMedia Alliance (WMA), the UWB world's answer to the Wi-Fi Alliance. The convergence layer handles communication between specific connectivity protocols, such as USB, Firewire and - potentially - Bluetooth and the underlying UWB transmission system. The WMA is working on the Protocol Adaptation Layer (PAL) that ties in a system's 1394 drivers with the wireless system, while the Intel-backed Wireless USB Promoter Group (WUPG) is doing the same for USB.

It's the support of the WMA and the WUPG that gives MBOA's UWB vision a lead over the rival camp's technology - more than the strength of the individual companies behind each vision of UWB. ®

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