More phlegmatic reactions to January’s Consumer Electronics Show were that it was “just like last year, only more so.”
And, indeed, the big headlines went once more, to the companies that could claim bragging rights for 100-inch plus plasma screens; to Microsoft and Intel in their aggressive determination to force themselves beyond the PC and into the living room; to the impending and, to most observers, pointless format war over next generation DVD; and (never forgetting Apple’s snooty refusal to exhibit at CES) to what all its rivals were doing about the iPod.
Yes, I could have written that paragraph 12 months ago, word for word. However, what wasn’t there in 2005 was a genuine promise of deliverable ultra wideband communications before the year was out.
Among the A-list exhibitors, Intel and Freescale were banging the drum for UWB and have been doing so for some time. But CES was also marked by the presence of companies such as Staccato Communications, Pulse Link and tZero offering genuine silicon solutions. That is impressive because UWB design has reputedly been a swine of a task.
Kudos to those companies aside, what makes UWB interesting is what it enables. Low-power wireless at speeds of 480Mb/s and above opens up a whole range of new application possibilities from zippy wireless USB connections to whizzing HDTV signals around the various rooms in the home.
However, there is a catch. Shortly after CES, talks to agree a common UWB standard collapsed. It is tempting to compare the situation with that for the current 802.11 family, where multiple formats exist. But this is different and potentially as damaging to the market as the DVD war. At least one major analyst sees it as a re-run of VHS and Betamax. To reap genuine benefit in Q4, this situation needs sorting out and quickly.
As ever I’d like to diverge to thank all our contributors to this issue.With the DATE conference soon to begin in Munich, we have tried to give this edition a particular European feel, so can I add a special nod of gratitude to ARM, TransEDA and Silistix.
At the last DAC, we announced that EDA Tech Forum would henceforth be available globally and we want to reflect what’s happening in the design world globally in our content. To that end, we will be exhibiting at DATE (stand F4 on the Mezzanine) and would be delighted to meet with potential contributors as well as any readers who have comments on our work.