"Massively Broadband Wireless AdHoc Nodes"


This proposal, supported by Congressman Lamar Smith in the recent Congressional Budget, is to provide for infrastructure equipment and faculty and staff support that is critical for the development of a revolutionary new approach to information management.

Historically, wireless communications has been used to provide portability for voice (telephone) communications, and more recently for broadband data used in portable computing (such as for Wireless LANs). Also, there has been tremendous interest and federal support for low bandwidth, low power wireless nodes for use in ad-hoc networks that are critical in military and sensing applications. One clearly sees the evolution of ubiquitous communication through the portable phone (the cellphone), and the portable computer (WiFi). This proposal, however, ushers in the technology needed for a revolutionary new development – portable content. Portable content will enable battlefield personnel to use lightweight, rugged devices that exploit massive local-area bandwidth connectivity. Printed matter and mechanical disk drives, all liabilities during battlefield operations, will be replaced with the wireless technology proposed in this project.

This project explores the technological boundaries and the physical constraints associated with sending data rates of several Gigabits per second in close range (within 5 to 10 meters). With massively broadband wireless ad-hoc nodes, it will be possible for military personnel to move massive amounts of data, such as entire computer hard drives, via short range low power wireless devices, thereby ushering in an era of portable content.

This project provides critical radio frequency equipment needed to design, test, and fabricate the radio frequency and intermediate frequency components that will enable the portable content devices. Furthermore, this project provides interdisciplinary support of faculty of the Wireless Internet Center for Advanced Technologies (WICAT and NYU Wireless) at the University of Texas to work together to begin the development of theoretical and experimental contributions in this new field, that will address the PHY, MAC, and Network layer research vital to enable a large system of ad-hoc users to share in the concept of portable content.


The concept of massively broadband wireless devices is a very recent phenomenon, brought about by the interest in Ultra WideBand (UWB) technologies. UWB has historically been developed through military funding, as exemplified by companies such as Time Domain, of Huntsville , AL . Today, because of the large investment in UWB throughout the 1980’s provided by the Army and DARPA, major companies such as Intel, Freescale, Texas Instruments, etc. are now seriously involved with prototyping and exploring the commercialization of UWB technologies through the IEEE 802.15.3a standards committee.

It is important to note that all of the contemplated uses of UWB focus on the replacement of cables or the establishment of personal area radio networks, where the data rates, at most, approach 1 Gigabit per second. While the presently contemplated UWB data rates are remarkable and exceed rates ever before conceived by wireless networks, they do not support the type of transmission rates required to enable actual transport of massive memory contents, such as entire books, movies, hard drives, or other large content devices that today require hard media.

The ability to provide portable content, on the order of entire hard drive contents, whereby users could have instant access and experience portability to massive amounts of data, would be a tremendous asset for the military. Particularly in wartime or battlefield scenarios, portable content would enable soldiers to use lightweight equipment that would be more reliable with fewer moving parts. The Army, instead of relying upon printed books or heavy computing equipment, could instead rely upon massively broadband data links and lightweight viewers to transport content from a single source, such as a server, or from a passive RFID tag. Equipment for the battle field will be substantially lighter in weight and more rugged, as integrated circuits replace magnetic drives and hard text media. The ability to transport content via wireless will provide nast improvements not contemplated heretofore.

It is only recently, in the past 5 to 7 years, that worldwide governments have realized that semiconductor technologies may someday be produced at millimeter wave frequencies at reasonable cost. While today it is not commercially viable to produce massive quantities of 65 nm or 90 nm devices, the Taiwanese Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp. recently estimated that within 5 to 6 years, it should be feasible. Today, federal governments in the US , Japan , and in EU have allocated spectrum at 60 GHz which has 7 GHz bandwidth available. This allocation offers an unprecedented opportunity to provide high bandwidth wireless connectivity, and is a clear indication that within a decade, it should be possible to provide truly massive bandwidths within local areas, at rates of several to tens of gigabits per second, so that massive information sources may be transmitted wirelessly within seconds or milliseconds. The capabilities of massively broadband wireless devices, operating at carrier frequencies of 60 GHz to 90 GHz, and above, will enable an era of ubiquitous portable content, and will eliminate today's bulky, cumbersome storage devices such as  hard drives, large paper texts, and CD's. Based on results of this research project, and the one-time investment in faculty and infrastructure at the Wireless Internet Center for Advanced Technologies (WICAT and NYU Wireless) at The University of Texas, bulky present-day storage devices will be replaced with wireless, low power RF devices that enable incredible wireless data rates to transport the contents of low cost silicon memory banks. Basic research in RF millimeter wave integrated circuit technology, combined with new theoretical and implementation approaches for new massive bandwidth media access protocols, is critical for US competitiveness and critical infrastructure is provided through this project.

Research Project:

This project, supported by Congressman Lamar Smith of Texas , aims to build critical resources a the Wireless Internet Center for Advanced Technologies (WICAT and NYU Wireless) at The University of Texas in Austin . The bulk of the funding for this project is to provide the RF and IF equipment critical for research on massively broadband millimeter wave frequencies, while joining faculty together to work the PHY, MAC, and Network layer issues surrounding Massively Broadband wireless nodes.

The proposed WICAT and NYU Wireless 60 GHz Wireless Research Project is created to solve challenging problems to enable accurate design and implementation of low cost, low power transceivers in this frequency range of 60 GHz and above.

Advanced CMOS manufacturing, at geometries finer than 0.1 micron, provide active devices which are adequate, with proper matching networks, for 60 GHz wireless applications. Our research will therefore concentrate in the following areas:

  1. Characterization of metals on standard CMOS processes at 60 GHz,
  2. Design of tuning, matching, and combining networks using these metals,
  3. Innovative combination of active and on chip passive devices to construct basic transceiver building blocks,
  4. Interfaces with multi-GHz data streams in modulators and demodulators,
  5. Adaptive, directive antenna structures, and
  6. Packaging techniques.

In addition, faculty with expertise in MAC and Network design layers, will explore the memory structures required to pipeline data and to explore multi-user issues at data rates of several Gbps. This research problem requires new thinking in order to allow proper handling and buffering of data at this enormous rates. Furthemore, queue sizes and the power/bandwidth tradeoffs for a network of massively broadband nodes will be unlike any previous problem domain. This interdisciplinary team will address the following additional critical areas:

The pioneering research contemplated here, which will combine RF IC design and semiconductor research capabilities with MAC and Network layer research, will pave the way for basic research that could lead to single chip data transceivers that reliably transfer more than 5 GB/s data for more than 5 meters in military or commercial appliactions, at a price of under $5 (at volumes of 5 million per month) in less than 5 years. This will lead to very low cost transceivers (under $1) that will enable unprecedented bandwidth networks for military, industrial and consumers around the world as the production volumes ramp over the next decade, and as wireless replaces mechanical hard drives and hard media, such as CD’s and books.

This one-time research investment will support key WICAT and NYU Wireless faculty and students to develop a cohesive and comprehensive research approach for massively broadband wireless ad-hoc nodes, while providing vital equipment to pursue massively broadband nodes.

Faculty Participants:

This work was sponsored by the Army Research Office, Project W911NF-05-2-0044, and by the Advanced Microelectronics Research Center of The University of Texas at Austin.

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