Take a MIMO

If you follow the world of Wi-Fi with any interest, over the last year you have probably encountered mention of the multiple radio signal/smart antenna technology known as MIMO (multiple input, multiple output). The tech was pioneered and is championed by Airgo Networks, a startup that develops chipsets to take advantage of the extra throughput of MIMO, claiming 72 to 108 Megabits per second (Mbps).
That’s great… but where are the products?

Today, Airgo announced its first four customers to jump on the MIMO-wagon: SOHOware, Planex, Askey and Taiyo Yuden.

Airgo says the companies are in manufacturing mode and will be ready to distribute products by July. Expect to see MIMO in CardBus cards and access points.

This could mean that Airgo gets the first MIMO products to market. Last month, Airespace said it would offer Intelligent RF Access Points (IRAP) using MIMO for its wireless switch system, but not using Airgo’s technology. The IRAP units aren’t expected to ship until the third quarter of this year.

Intel is reportedly working on building MIMO into future generations of the Centrino chipset as well.

The Palo Alto, Calif.-based company calls MIMO “the scientific term for a new paradigm in wireless digital signal processing that transmits multiple data streams using a single radio channel to multiply throughput rates while simultaneously extending range.” The technology was pioneered at Stanford University, and later at Clarity Wireless by the founders of Airgo. The company’s chipset supports 802.11a, b, and g, as well as features of the forthcoming 802.11i (security) and 802.11e (Quality of Service) draft specifications.

It’s possible that MIMO will become part of the 802.11 standards, possibly as part of the proposed 802.11n that is meant to boost WLAN performance. Such decisions by the 802.11 Working Group and the 11n Task Group in the IEEE are months if not years away.

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