The "world's smallest standalone 3G modem" is part of Intel's increasing investment in the market for connected home appliances and wearables.
Intel on Tuesday launched what it's calling the "world's smallest standalone 3G modem" as part of its increasing investment in the Internet of Things (IoT) market for connected home appliances, industrial systems, and wearable technology.
The new XMM 6255 chipset is just 300 mm squared in size and leverages Intel's new Power Transceiver technology, a design which represents the "industry's first design to combine transmit and receive functionality with a fully integrated power amplifier and power management, all on a single chip," according to the company.
Intel is positioning the XMM 6255 for consumer products like wearables, as well as for various sensors and meters that are being built into connected industrial equipment and home appliances as the IoT market expands.
And the chip giant is especially bullish on IOT prospects going forward, citing recent research that projects explosive market growth for connected products in areas ranging from consumer wearables to security devices to in-vehicle systems, to the tune of literally billions of new devices being sold in the next five years.
"Today, we commercially launched the XMM 6255 to provide a wireless solution for the billions of 'smart' and connected devices that are expected in the coming years," Intel said in a blog post.
The company is strongly pushing its new modem as a solution for smaller devices like smartwatches.
"Devices with a small form factor like a smartwatch or a sensor may not have enough space for a normal-sized 3G antenna, which can affect connectivity quality and reliability," Intel said. "The XMM 6255 modem is specially designed for such devices and delivers great 3G connectivity even with small volume antennas not meeting conventional mobile phone quality standards."
The XMM 6255 modem incorporates Intel's new SMARTI UE2p radio frequency (RF) transceiver layered onto a 3G power amplifier that delivers up to 7.2 Mbps download speeds and 5.6 Mbps upload speeds, Intel said. The modem is included in the u-blox SARA-U2 Module Intel is now making available to partners, which includes the X-Gold 624 baseband processor, a memory chip, and an isoplexer for antennas in a package that is narrower than a penny.
Intel has baked some power management features into the SARA-U2 Module, including a PA DCDC converter and direct-to-battery power, the company said. The result is "a smaller modem that helps manufacturers minimize their build of material costs" while also protecting "the radio from overheating, voltage peaks, and damage under tough usage conditions, which is important for safety monitors and other critical IoT devices."
The XMM 6255 provides some nice benefits in less-than-optimal conditions, according to Intel. For example, the modem can provide "reliable communication" in low-signal zones—think a parking garage or the basement of a home.