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Developer to demo 400Mbps powerline Ethernet

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DS2, the Spanish chip maker behind one of the two rival ethernet-over-mains-wiring technologies, will next month demo a next-gen version of powerline that runs at up to 400Mbps - double today's top speed.

It may be ready to show the technology working, but it's some way from releasing chips that can be incorporated into products consumers can buy and install. DS2 said it was targeting the technology at people who want to stream around at least three HD signals and two standard-definition feeds around the home. It expects such an application to be in demand "from 2009 onwards", and that's when it expects to get 400Mbps technology into powerline Ethernet adaptors.

DS2 also promised the 400Mbps system would be compatible with its 200Mbps version, though it's unclear whether it means the two will co-exist on the same wiring - as today's 200Mbps links co-exitst but won't talk to older 85Mbps and 14Mbps adaptors - or will be able to communicate with them.

Like earlier powerline technologies and wireless networking systems such as Wi-Fi, the quoted speed is an all-out raw data transfer rate - and one that assumes perfect transmission conditions. Real-world speeds are likely to be rather lower than 400Mbps.

Using 200Mbps powerline links yields a real-world bandwidth of around 40-50Mbps, for example - sufficient for two HD streams. DS2's 400Mbps technology will need to deliver real-world bandwidth of approximately double that to handle three or more HD streams and various SD signals.

Rival powerline group, the HomePlug Powerline Alliance, has yet to detail its own plans to push its 200Mbps technology beyond that speed.

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