PicoChip Hot on WiMax

Wireless processor startup PicoChip Designs Ltd. has developed a programmable WiMax chip that it claims will offer good performance while allowing vendors to update the silicon to support new variants of the wireless technology.

This is particularly important in the world of WiMax, because the final version of the 802.16a revision d fixed wireless metropolitan area specification that the technology is based on is not expected until later this year. And some time after that, revision e, which adds mobility extensions and could turn WiMax into an alternative to wireless LAN hotspots or 3G mobile networks, will hit the market.

So equipment vendors need a mechanism that they can use to update 802.16a spec base-station chips when changes happen.

PicoChip demonstrated its new baby at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc. (IEEE) 802.16 Standards Committee meeting in Shenzhen, China, today. The company claims that the chip has been selected by some “major names” that are planning to release product as soon as the standard is baked and the WiMax Forum starts interoperability certification, says marketing guy Rupert Baines, without -- naturally -- actually mentioning any names.

PicoChip also claims to overcome some of the problems that typically bedevil programmable chips -- namely that they tend to be costlier, larger, and more power hungry than hardwired equivalents.

But PicoChip claims its silcion is not your father's Field Programmable Gate Array. “Our chip will deliver ten times the performance of traditional FPGA and Digital Signal Processor [DSP] architectures for the same amount of money and power," boasts Baines.

Unstrung has no way to verify these claims yet and merely observes: Ya canna change the laws of physics, Captain!

— Gabriel Brown, Chief Analyst, Unstrung Insider

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