VIRTUS Chipset Is 1000 Times Faster Than Bluetooth

Enid Burns for

The demand for faster and faster technology has spurred the development of a wireless millimeter-wave (mm-wave) technology. The VIRTUS chipset, developed jointly by scientists at the Nanyang Technological University and A*STAR’s Institute for Infocomm Research (I²R), transmits large volumes of data at ultra-high speeds of a reported 2 Gigabits per second. That’s 1,000 times faster than Bluetooth.

The two institutions, both located in Singapore, developed the chip to address demand for higher speeds for wireless devices.

“The demand for ultra high-speed wireless connectivity has fuelled the need for faster data transfer rates. Unfortunately, current technologies are unable to meet these stringent demands,” Professor Yeo Kiat Seng, the principal investigator of the project and Associate Chair of Research at NTU’s School of Electrical & Electronic Engineering, said in a statement. “The NTU-I2R team, being at the cutting edge of research and development, has successfully demonstrated an integrated 60 GHz chipset for multi-gigabits per second wireless transmission.”

Millimeter-wave technology is able to transmit large packets of information with little power consumption. The mm-wave operates on the extremely high frequency (EHF) band, which operates on a range between 30 and 300 gigahertz. Chips built with the mm-wave chip are geared toward low-power devices such as smartphones and tablets. Devices equipped with mm-wave technology are able to transmit and receive data between multiple platforms such as phone-to-phone, projectors, TVs, computers and other devices.

The VIRTUS chipset is developed using the mm-wave frequency in order to transmit data at high speeds. NTU and I²R developed the VIRTUS chip with three components: an antenna, a full radio-frequency transceiver and a baseband processor. NTU developed the full radio-frequency transceiver; I²R developed the baseband processor. By connecting the antenna to the transceiver, it’s able to filter and amplify signals. The chip is able to achieve low power consumption by passing signals to the baseband processor, which conducts non-linear analog signal processing and digital parallel processing using decoder architecture.

VIRTUS is built with an integrated low-power 60 GHz chipset, a reported first of its kind. The VIRTUS chipset holds 16 international patents.

“This ground-breaking mm-wave integrated circuit technology will have significant commercial impact, enabling a wide range of new applications such as wireless display, mobile-distributed computing, live high-definition video streaming, real-time interactive multi-user gaming, and more,” says NTU professor Yeo, in a statement. Yeo is the founding director of NTU’s VIRTUS IC Design Centre of Excellence.

In tests, NTU and I²R report the VIRTUS chipset is able to transfer a two-hour, 8 gigabyte DVD movie in just half a minute, a feat that would take 8.5 hours on Bluetooth. Bluetooth is a personal area network chip, which requires connection to another device in close proximity which either holds the data, or connects to data for transfer and transmission. If the mm-wave technology is being compared to Bluetooth, it is also intended for transferring and transmitting data from local devices such as a computer, TV or smartphone. It will also require that all devices are enabled with the same technology in order to communicate with each other.