NEW ORLEANS Motorola Inc.'s Semiconductor Products Sector will use a proprietary frequency-hopping scheme developed for multiuser gaming as its indirect entry into 2.4-GHz wireless markets, corporate vice president Ray Burgess told the Smart Networks Developer Forum Tuesday (July 23).
The isochronous network, developed with input from Nintendo Co. Ltd., Sony Corp. and other game platform developers, will be extended into other markets to serve as a "feeder" for future ad-hoc mesh-based piconets that use 802.11 wireless technology as their underlying infrastructure, Burgess said.
Motorola was chided by Smart Networks keynoter Nicholas Negroponte for not having a strong 802.11 media-access controller and physical-layer offering. David Perkins, vice president and general manager of the networking and computing systems group at Motorola's Semiconductor Products Sector, said the unit's PowerPC processor often serves as a port aggregator in 802.11 access systems, giving Motorola a strong indirect role in wireless LANs. But Burgess said the company would bypass direct WLAN chip sets in favor of a two-pronged strategy of Bluetooth and isochronous game-LAN support.
Motorola remains committed to Bluetooth for embedded short-range applications where point-to-point networking is the primary target and interference with 802.11 is not a problem, Burgess said. But the multiuser gaming market required a very low latency network where traditional packet-collision problems precluded use of 802.11, he said. In order to develop such products, a coalition resembling Bluetooth was a hindrance rather than an advantage, he said.
"Our first target will not require industry support. We went with a proprietary modulation method, because we really don't need any alliances except with our gaming partners," Burgess said. "As the technology moves outside the gaming market, we could start opening up the details of our approach, and working with more partners."
Because the network is intended for streaming, near-real-time traffic and does not have to use LAN contention methods, developers of such systems will not have to worry about packet collisions with home networks based on 802.11, he said. The hopping modulation scheme will not interfere with either LANs or Bluetooth links in the unlicensed 2.4-GHz band. But as wireless LANs move to mesh-based piconets employing multihop routing across access points, the gaming LAN could be used as a local networking cluster operating in conjunction with 802.11, Burgess said.
Motorola and Nintendo have demonstrated the isochronous gaming LAN privately at gaming conferences over the last quarter. The RF subsystems will be ready for volume production in the second half of this year, Burgess said.