Coding breakthrough speeds radio data 100x

A radical new way of encoding digital bits into analog waves for transmission can operate several hundred times faster than current modulation/demodulation technologies, according to Singapore inventor Cellonics.

The basic scheme came from combining the mathematics of Non-Linear Dynamic Systems with observations of biological neuron firing to create a completely new way of coding bits into waveforms, the company said at the CommunicAsia exhibition here Monday.

Fundamental to today's communications are the complementary processes of turning digital information into analog signals (modulation) and reconstituting the digital data at the other end (demodulation). Existing techniques such as ASK (amplitude shift keying) and FSK (frequency shift keying) need to use hundreds of RF (radio-frequency) cycles to determine the value of a bit. Cellonics' patented scheme carries one symbol of information per RF cycle, the company said.

"Because ASK and FSK have to use a carrier signal as reference, they need hundreds of cycles before the decoder can decide on the value of a bit," said Lye Hoeng Fai, Cellonics' chief executive officer. "In our scheme, there is no concept of a carrier signal."

GSM (Global System for Mobile communications) phones typically work on frequencies of 900MHz, or 900 million cycles per second. Retrieving one bit per RF cycle would enable 900M bps (bits per second) of data to be carried.

Because modulation/demodulation is so fundamental to data communications, the technique can be used in mobile phones, wireless LANs, cable modems, UWB (Ultra Wide Band) wireless, telecommunication backbone networks or military radio, Lye said.

The new technology has several other advantages which stem from the advanced mathematics underlying the scheme, he said.

First, the circuits needed to perform the modulation/demodulation (modem) function are extremely simple, which will keep them small, cheap and with low power requirements. Second, the encoding scheme has proved to be extremely robust when dealing with signal noise. Third, the encoding technology is inherently multi-layer -- the output is not restricted to binary digits 0 and 1, but can assume a range of integer values, or symbols. Carrying one symbol per RF cycle therefore means carrying more than one bit per RF cycle.

Cellonics has built several prototypes as it prepares to license the technology to telecommunication equipment vendors. These include a 5.7M bps fixed line system, a 26.7M bps wireless LAN system and a 5.7M bps UWB radio system.

"We think this is a revolutionary new technology," said Lye. "It has the ability to obsolete the modem layer of all communications devices."

Cellonics is offering evaluation licenses of its system at US$200,000 each, a price deliberately kept low, according to Lye.

"We want to open this up so that Cellonics can become a world standard -- we are in no position to do this ourselves and so we want to license the technology as widely as possible," he said. "We want to see Cellonics technology in every communications device in the world."

Two worldwide patents for the core technology have been granted to Cellonics and the company has submitted 11 more for consideration, Lye said.

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