Samsung, IMEC Team to Turn Radio Green


greenGreen is the color most frequently heard in the newscasts of today. It’s not just a pretty color, it’s also the name of the movement toward a more eco-friendly stance in a variety of arenas. In this case the arena in question is radio.

South Korean chip maker Samsung has just signed off on a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with their prior collaborators, the IMEC, to jointly work on green technology for radio. IMEC is a huge nonotechnology research center in Beligium that has been working on “green radio” for years. The terms of the MOU cover research on communications technologies including cognitive reconfigurable radio baseband and millimeter-wave wireless. (FYI: “Cognitive radio” is the term used for integrated chips that adapt to environmental variables such as changes in frequencies, indoor/outdoor conditions, signal strength and movement.)

This should be a good fit. These two companies have been working together on various projects for quite some time now. The relationship began in 2004, when they partnered on sub-32-nm CMOS. Then, in 2005, they took on multi-mode multimedia research together. In 2007, ubiquitous embedded systems were the name of the game. I guess you could say they have history.

Gail Flower, a contributing editor at Electronic Design News (EDN), reports that the two companies not only have a shared history of collaboration, but also a common environmentalist background:

IMEC already has an established green radio program that supports major standards for wireless communications covering cognitive radios. […]

Meanwhile, in March of this year, Samsung announced a shift towards green-oriented innovative products as a general plan to help increase sales. One product already introduced includes an ultra-slim LCD line using LED backlighting technology for HCTVs and using up to 40% less power than conventional TVs without the technology.

While a lot of the applications for this sort of research will be aimed at the mobile market, I can see definite advantages for radio at all levels. First, there is the fact that mobile is radio’s new frontier so most mobile research will end up benefiting broadcast radio tangentially. Second there is the fact that cognitive radio chips can be used for many things including making traditional radio (possibly even HD, as well) more reliable and thus more accessible.

Hats off to them, after all it’s not easy being green!

Photo courtesy of stonethestone, used under its Creative Commons license


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