3D Wi-Fi Could Boost Capacity

John Lister's picture

A "3D" processor could make wireless communication more efficient according to scientists at the University of Florida. It could benefit both WiFi and cellular data services.

One of the limitations of current WiFi tech is that it uses a "planar processor" to handle the wireless signal. Because these processors are (in practical terms) two-dimensional, they can only work with a limited range of wireless frequencies.

Expanding the range of frequencies planar processors can handle is only possible by making them wider, a little like increasing capacity on roads. But making the processor wider eventually conflicts with the desire to keep mobile devices small.

That limited range of frequencies in turn makes it hard to allocate wireless signal across multiple devices efficiently. In turn, network and WiFi operators have to balance having enough capacity for users at peak times, without wasting money on capacity that isn't used all the time.

More Layers, More Options

The University of Florida answer is the "three-dimensional nanomechanical resonator" incorporating a "ferroelectric-gate fin spectral processor." (Source: eurekalert.org)

Put in more simple terms, it's made up of layers of different processors which work with different frequencies. It can receive a wireless signal that contains combined data at more than one frequency and then break it down into different frequencies for processing.

In theory at least it has two main advantages. The first is that the three-dimensional design means that expanding capacity requires a much smaller increase in size, reducing the need to compromise between the size of a mobile device and the amount of wireless data it can handle.

Efficient Data Allocation

The second benefit is that networks could operate much more efficiently. Because devices can handle data at a wider range of frequencies, there's more flexibility for a network to send data at specific frequencies to specific devices and avoid conflict and slowdowns.

When and how the tech starts appearing in consumer devices remains to be seen. Some tech enthusiasts have already questioned whether the need to keep processors cool could be a limitation on implementing it. That could be a particular problem if the multiple layers effectively created a thicker chip. (Source: gizmodo.com)

What's Your Opinion?

Do you find wireless network capacity a significant problem? At what point would a thicker mobile device outweigh any performance benefits? Do you find overheating a problem with your existing wireless devices?

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