A processor is being developed in Japan that will penetrate skin and paper at speeds up to 30Gbps
Rohm, a Japanese component maker, has developed a processor that could eventually transmit and receive signals over short distances at 30 gigabits per second (Gbps) using the TeraHertz (THz) frequency band.
The chip uses a waveband within the 100GHz to 10THz range of the electromagnetic spectrum, a section that lies between radio signals and visible light waves and has been difficult and expensive to detect in the past. This gives the signals the ability to penetrate thin barriers but it otherwise requires a direct “line of sight” placement.
HDTV performance encouraging
The experimental system passes data at 1.5Gbps but Rohm developers claim that this can be cranked up to 30Gbps if the processor goes into production. In an experiment at the current rate, a high-definition television (HDTV) programme was streamed without interruption but a higher bitrate will be required for future televisions with higher definition and 3D capabilities.
Although Rohm is concentrating on TV and image projection systems at the moment, the new chips could find their way into IT and medical equipment in the future. The ability to pass through cloth, paper, plastic and skin adds to the attraction for these purposes.
There is often a problem when technology is implanted in the human body. Gathering information or installing software upgrades can be difficult but Rohm claims that the device could come to market within four years at a price around £8. This could prove attractive to developers.
Apart from being much cheaper than current equivalent systems, the Rohm development is also much more compact – which is another desirable quality. Current chips in this frequency band cost several thousand pounds, measure 20cm square and only achieve 0.1Gbps, Rohm claimed.
The team developing the processor have several challenges to defeat before the chip is commercially viable. At the moment, the product is not durable or stable enough and work is in progress to improve these performance issues.