Electronic Design

Digital Media Drives The Broad Bandwagon

Demand for broadband will drive the industry over the next few years. Wireless and wireline communications will converge within the enterprise, creating personal home and corporate networking that delivers speedy, seamless Internet and communications access. Broadband will continue to redefine the delivery of information when and where you need it, and it's a significant focus for major silicon providers.

Broadband also is going mainstream. In the U.S., 53% of Internet subscribers use cable or DSL. The trend is moving to integrated gateways that incorporate Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and wireless local-area-network (WLAN) routers. HDTV is exploding due to the plummeting cost of large-format HDTV displays. Next-generation video coding standards will accelerate the transition to HDTV because they reduce the bandwidth requirements by a factor of two to three.

Advanced set-top box features such as digital video recording (DVR) are emerging. Cable service providers are deploying video on demand (VOD) as well. As the providers' video libraries expand, subscribers won't need to drive to the video store to rent movies. Instead, physical content such as CDs and DVDs will disappear, replaced by content stored on servers and accessed over a broadband network.

Gigabit Ethernet will become the pervasive connectivity technology for enterprise networks over the next few years. Also, all forms of traffic (voice, video, data, and storage) will use the same IP in a single-fabric configuration. To enable real-time, low-latency traffic to flow over these single-fabric IP networks, new technologies like TCP/IP offload engines, RDMA, and iSCSI protocol enhancements have arrived, guaranteeing low latencies for computer clustering and storage over Ethernet.

IP telephony is gaining traction in small to medium-sized businesses. Meanwhile, VoIP simplifies enterprise networks by allowing both voice and data to reside on a common converged network rather than supporting a separate PBX network.

WLAN based on the IEEE 802.11 Wi-Fi standard is experiencing explosive growth as users begin to network multiple computers in the home. The current 802.11g standard, which operates at 54 Mbits/s, is evolving to 802.11n to accommodate data rates of several hundred megabits per second. As a result, 802.11n will enable true multimedia networking in the home.

We're also beginning to see the adoption of Wi-Fi technology in cellular handsets, enabling the convergence of wide-area-network (WAN) and LAN telephony services. Ultimately, each individual will carry one phone with one phone number that can be used at home, at work, and on the road.

Bluetooth dominates short-range wireless. It can handle up to 3 Mbits/s for hands-free cellular voice applications, stereo headset applications, and wireless computer peripherals. Ultra-wideband is becoming a next-generation short-range wireless standard that will accommodate data rates of up to 1 Gbit/s, supporting video connectivity between consumer electronics devices and HDTV flat-panel displays.

On the cellular front, wideband CDMA and other 3G technologies are bringing 384-kbit/s rates to handsets for gaming, video and music playback, video telephony, GPS mapping, and broadband Internet access. The high-speed downlink packet access (HSDPA) evolution of WCDMA will accommodate downlink data rates up to 10 Mbits/s to enable video distribution over cellular networks.

Broadband connectivity is evolving. Over the next 10 to 20 years, universal broadband access will give everyone high-speed access to a network anywhere, anytime.

TAGS: Components
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