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Seed-sized A*STAR antenna could open the door to 20Gbps wireless


Antennas have often capped the potential speed of a wireless link -- the 450Mbps in modern 802.11n WiFi routers is directly linked to the use of a MIMO antenna array to catch signals more effectively, for example. That ceiling is about to get much higher, if A*STAR has anything to say about it. The use of a polymer filling for the gaps instead of air lets the Singapore agency create a 3D, cavity-backed silicon antenna that measures just 0.06 by 0.04 inches, roughly the size of a seed on your hamburger bun, even as it increases the breakneck pace. The new antenna generates a signal 30 times stronger than on-chip rivals at an ultrawideband-grade 135GHz, and musters a theoretical peak speed of 20Gbps -- enough that 802.11ac WiFi's 1.3Gbps drags its heels by comparison. Before we get ahead of ourselves on expecting instant file transfers at short distances, there's the small matter of getting a chip that can use all that bandwidth. Even the 7Gbps of WiGig wouldn't saturate the antenna, after all. Still, knowing that A*STAR sees "immense commercial potential" in its tiny device hints that wireless data might eventually blow past faster wired standards like Thunderbolt.

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