Beyond Centrino: Intel drives device changes for a 5G world

Lays groundwork for the next revolution in wireless communications

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Credit: MIT

Intel sparked a wireless revolution over the last decade with its Centrino processor platform, designed to connect laptops over Wi-Fi, and now believes the 5G mobile standard will fuel the next big change in the way a new generation of devices communicate.

The move to 5G networks will provide faster wireless connectivity through a host of technologies and change the way computing devices are built, said Aicha Evans, corporate vice president for Intel's Platform Engineering Group and general manager for the Communication and Devices Group.

Wi-Fi is ubiquitous today, but upcoming changes may involve making cellular connectivity a common feature on laptops. This is why Intel is putting a lot of energy into modem development for laptops and mobile devices. 

5G is expected to be deployed by 2020 and is still being researched. Carriers have said 5G will provide 100 times the throughput of 4G networks through licensed and unlicensed spectrum.

Intel will help build out 5G at the device and infrastructure level, Evans said. Lines are blurring between different forms of communication, driving changes in cellular network topology, spectrum usage and Wi-Fi technology, Evans said.

The company is making faster modems, and is offering prototype baseband and radio-frequency equipment to build out the 5G infrastructure.

Intel sees itself as a key player in the transition to 5G. "We're uniquely positioned to make that happen," Evans said.

5G networks are also being built to support a new generation of Internet of Things and smart home devices, Evans said. Sensor-based devices are transmitting bursts of information over short and long distances  to repositories where the data is analyzed. 5G networks will support small bursts of information at slower speeds, with prioritization and security being key components.

Intel estimates that around 50 billion IoT devices will ship by 2020. At MWC, virtual reality, car, remote medicine and other demonstrations will show off 5G capabilities.

Intel at MWC introduced the XMM 7480 modem, designed to provide faster LTE connections in smartphones, tablets and PCs. It also announced the Atom X3-M7272 chip, which has an integrated modem for cars and IoT equipment. The low-power chip allows for data transmission over 3G and 2G networks, which can consume less power than LTE networks.

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