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Software Hardware

New IrDA Spec Shoots for 100Mbit/s Data Rate 111

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the lovers-of-backwards-compatible-hardware dept.
An anonymous reader writes "According to an article at DeviceForge, the Infrared Data Association has adopted a new high speed IR communications protocol. This new protocol promises to deliver possible speed up to 100Mbit/s transfer rates. From the article: 'Of note, existing IrDA-enabled devices can be upgraded to the new protocol, thus offering the opportunity to accelerate the IrDA data transfer rates of devices in the field via a software update.'"
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New IrDA Spec Shoots for 100Mbit/s Data Rate

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  • Good, but... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Poromenos1 (830658) on Wednesday August 31, 2005 @06:29AM (#13444210) Homepage
    Although it's quite fast it's still line-of-sight, and very short range. So, what can I do with this, transfer 12.5 MB/sec off my mobile phone? To connect my PCs I have wifi or LAN, I wouldn't use IrDA anyway for that.
    • most mobile phones have bluetooth support now, that don't need line of sight, so what's the point of this ?
    • by KiloByte (825081) on Wednesday August 31, 2005 @06:35AM (#13444234)
      At least for regular IrDA, you need not only line-of-sight but also a proper phase-of-the-moon. Getting that fixed would be nifty.
    • "and very short range..."

      IrDA sniper rifle anyone?

    • by Solder Fumes (797270) on Wednesday August 31, 2005 @08:35AM (#13444666)
      If only there were some way to channel light through some kind of flexible tube....
      • Or even, maybe, transmit data via electric pulses via some sort of insulated, narrow, flexable conductor. I wonder if anyone has ever though of it.

        Mod me -1, I dare you!
    • IIRC, IR uses a fraction of the power WiFi requires-- I've left it active on my handheld by accident and didn't notice any significant battery drain difference at all.
    • I write software for the PocketPC (like iPAQs, etc.) We do printing and communications via either Compact Flash connections, bluetooth, or IrDA. By far the easiest to configure is IrDA. In fact, there is almost no configuration required. Just point the unit at the printer and hit 'Go'. No plugging in cables, no partnering devices. I can walk into a customer's office for the first time, spot an Infrared port on their printer, and print from my iPAQ with one tap of the screen. I know of no other protoc
      • This is an excellent point, and I hope some people can grasp that sometimes you WANT to be able to point at something and make it go, and you don't need to be able to make it go from 200ft away in a seperate building.

        I've always had great success connecting IrDA devices to each other, so I really don't know why so many people dislike it.
    • Look, we found a Windows user!

      Most IrDA interfaces that are difficult to use (trouble connecting, staying connected, etc) are that way because the hardware is as simple as possible, all the operations are handled in software, and the software sucks. Windows IrDA is notorious for this. I would speculate that it's because Windows doesn't have any RT functionality and is unable to service interrupts fast enough to drive a software based IrDA interface, but it could easily be as simple as a crappy driver.
      • by cbreaker (561297)
        Some people say IrDA sucks, but in the short time that my notebooks had them I always had them work very well. Line of sight obviously required, but never once have I pointed one IrDA device at another one and had it NOT work.

        Maybe I'm just too stupid to break IrDA ..
    • Bluetooth requires you to know about a device, shake hands, meet it's parents, get to know its annoying friends etc etc.

      IrDA you just stick it to it. Literally. Which device I want to talk to? *this* one.

      Think vending machines... although I imagine the internet/server/machine round trip is ok for most people.

      Downloading games from a game depot... the physicality of placing your device there and having the data pushed onto your device... there is something secure and tangible there.

      It could all go horribly w
    • But you can't upgrade to that speed. The slashdot article misquotes. Current IrDA devices can be upgraded to support the PROTOCOL of the new faster IR, but not the faster transfer speeds. So an upgrade will allow the two to communicate, but only at 4.0 Mbps.
  • When they say 'accelerate devices in the field' do they meant that those cute little Ir ports on my laptop, with a transfer rate of something like 9600 baud and a range of about half an inch will suddenly become a high speed wireless connection? Doesn't sound very likely...
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Yeah, given that 99% of PC implementations are bound to the serial port, they're slave to how fast the UART works, which would limit to a theoretical 230Kbps. Plus, the data transfer rate really doesn't make it that much better than Bluetooth, which has the same range, but without LOS issues.

      A great theory, but not bloody likely.
      • Yeah, given that 99% of PC implementations are bound to the serial port, they're slave to how fast the UART works

        So far. IrDA adapters following this new spec could connect to the USB 2.0 bus[1].

        Plus, the data transfer rate really doesn't make it that much better than Bluetooth, which has the same range, but without LOS issues.

        The optical band (IR and visible) is not regulated by the FCC. I'll take an educated guess that it's less illegal to hack IrDA equipment for better range than to hack 802.11

    • Probably a strictly hypothetical max bandwidth. 108mb/s 802.11n struggles to exceed 40mb/s in real-life.
    • Actually, IrDA currently runs at 1Mbps, with a range of 1 meter or 100 centimeters. Sorry, I don't know what it is in feet or inches, or any similarly antiquated units of measurement...
  • Er, no. (Score:5, Informative)

    by richie2000 (159732) <rickard.olsson@gmail.com> on Wednesday August 31, 2005 @06:34AM (#13444229) Homepage Journal
    TFA states that the faster protocol that older devices can be firmware-upgraded to (IrSimple) is just a regular 4mbps Fast IrDA version with less overhead. The VFIR (16 mbps) and UFIR (100 mbps) protocols in development will surpass current hardware capabilities and current devices cannot be upgraded to them.

    Now, although the editor may feel that the submitter knows more about a subject field than he (or she), just a cursory glance through the linked main article to see how well it jives with the write-up should be in order. I'm just saying'.

  • nice (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bart416 (900487) on Wednesday August 31, 2005 @06:34AM (#13444230)
    Nice speed, this is handy for people that need to connect their mobile phone with their computer or something like that. Since bluetooth isn't that fast...
    • It's easier to pop the phone in its cradle than it is to find the IR thingy and line it up with the other IR thingy, press the button on one, press the button on the other, line them up again and offer a prayer to the IR gods.
    • Re:nice (Score:4, Informative)

      by TheRaven64 (641858) on Wednesday August 31, 2005 @06:59AM (#13444304) Journal
      Bluetooth is 721Kb/s, which is much faster than the connection between my telephone and the Internet. Bluetooth 2 (which exists on equipment that I don't own) runs at 3Mb/s - faster than my home Internet connection.

      The real advantage of bluetooth, however, is that it is not line of sight. When I am in a meeting or on the train I can just leave my 'phone in my pocket and still use it to connect to the Internet. With IrDA you still need to carefully align the devices.

      IrDA has the advantage that it does not require any kind of pairing, so it is good for one-off transfers. The only thing I really use it for is dropping my vCard into someone else's telephone / PDO from my 'phone. With more bandwidth, it might be good for transferring photos off a camera to a printer, but I suspect that wireless USB will be around before 100Mb/s IrDA and so it will continue to be an also-ran.

      • Re:nice (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Mac Degger (576336)
        "Bluetooth is 721Kb/s"

        It might well be, theoretically. But in practice, bluetooth is a HELL of a lot slower than that.

        Not only that, but as others have pointed out, its a point and click protocol and it's ubiqiutous on phones and many printers. Wifi and wireless usb are overkill for those kind of apps. And bluetooth, whilst a nice idea, is uselessly complex in practice (OK, I'll have to clarify that here; by complex I do not mean that I can't do it or that others here can't. Hell, I've got my T3 and my sams
  • Great (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 31, 2005 @06:34AM (#13444231)
    Now I can stream Video from my remote control ! Take that TV !
  • anyone know the current speed for IrDa and bluetooth transfer???
    • Re:Current Speed? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Avtar (413895) on Wednesday August 31, 2005 @06:48AM (#13444269)
      IrDa can manage serial port speed, 128Kb. Bluetooth V1 can transfer data at 1Mb and Bluetooth v2 can transfer data at 2Mb
      • Re:Current Speed? (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        > IrDa can manage serial port speed, 128Kb.

        Most mobile devices use S(low)IR which operates at serial port speed, but laptops have been equiped with 4Mbps F(ast)IR for ages.
      • Re:Current Speed? (Score:2, Insightful)

        by SirCyn (694031)
        The serial ports on my computers (for the last several years) can do 1,152 Kbps; basically on par with Bluetooth.
      • Mod parent down! Serial ports normally operate on 112 bits/sec *and* Bluetooth v2 can transfer data at 3 Mb/sec. That's at least 2 of 3 that are wrong. And come to think at it, 1Mb/sec for Bluetooth v1, shouldn't that be 721 Kbit/sec or something like that? For gods sake slashdot, anyone awake?
      • so only 98 more versions of bluetooth to catch up to this new IRDA standard.

        99 versions of bluetooth on the wall, 99 versions of bluetooth. take one down, pass it around, 98 versions of bluetooth on the wall.
        • BT is highly popular, especially in Europe where most carkits, headphones and data transfer is done through BT. And BT is currently trying to synchronize with ultra high frequency specs (they get the application protocol, they get higher speeds). So BT probably takes 1/2 versions to get on par.
  • by LiquidCoooled (634315) on Wednesday August 31, 2005 @06:41AM (#13444255) Homepage Journal
    Now I can talk to my tv at 100mpbs I can change channels much quicker and theoretically watch more channels at once.

    (for all those people who flick backwards and forewards between 2 channels watching both programs - TV watching for the multitasking generation)
    • for all those people who flick backwards and forewards between 2 channels watching both programs - TV watching for the multitasking generation

      Bah, that is not real multitasking, it is just simulated as you will be allocating a fraction of second to each channel.

      OTOH, multiple TV watching already existed with the screen over screen technologies
    • Now I can talk to my tv at 100mpbs I can change channels much quicker and theoretically watch more channels at once.

      But now you've got enough bandwidth to send video from the television back to the remote. No more of that stupid "picture in picture" crap, you can browse other channels on your remote while watching something else on the big screen.

  • Um, doesnt sound even remotely possible. All the IR links I've seen use a simple IR detector with intrinsically very limited bandwidth. Even with aggressive feedback it's hard to get over 100K BPS.
  • by el_womble (779715) on Wednesday August 31, 2005 @06:56AM (#13444294) Homepage
    I miss line of sight communications. Now I can see that when the range is measured in miles or 10s of yards line of site is probably a real issue, but when its measured in feetor inches its actually really neat.

    Bluetooth is cool, I wouldn't want a LOS headset, or xbox controller and it is cool being able to sync or connect to your phone whilst its still in your pocket. But handshaking is a PITA. Say a friend of mine wants to send me a photo from his groovy new phone to my apple. I can do it with bluetooth, but I have to pair it first (grrrr). In the bad old days of ir, all he had to do was point his phone at my laptop press send, then I accepted the transmission and it magically appeared on my desktop. Sweet.

    For fast, one time transmission, this technology could really make life easier. You don't have to know what WLAN to connect to, you don't have pair, you don't have to worry about firewalls or connection settings or network contention. You just fire and forget. Its not replacement for bluetooth, its complimentary.
    • but I have to pair it first

      But you only have to pair it once. Depending on how you configure things, after that you only have to accept the connection (possibly not even that).

      Line of sight *is* cool, don't get me wrong, but so is not even having to take my phone out of my pocket to copy files to my PC.
      • He's not talking about transferring from his phone to his PC's. He's talking about transferring from someone else's phone to his computer.

        It doesn't matter if you only have to pair once, if you're only going to be doing one transfer, ever, than that is one time too many.
    • I use bluetooth on a daily basis, and have yet to find a device that actually *required* you to be paired to transfer files.
      You must be *discoverable*, but thats a very different thing - devices will just prompt you to accept a file if they aren't paired with your device.
      Well, all except my girlfriends computer, which seems to accept files silently in the background...
    • Say a friend of mine wants to send me a photo from his groovy new phone to my apple. I can do it with bluetooth, but I have to pair it first (grrrr)

      Actually you don't! (Nothing Apple would be that awkward. ;) Your friend can just send the pic as long as your Mac is discoverable, and your Mac will pop up a little box that says "Do you want to receive this pic?"


      • You're right you don't have to pair (which I didn't know - thanks for the tip!), but you still have to select the device you want to send to via another menu...yada yada yada yada.

        Is this hard? No. Is it bearable, with what we know about omnidirectional radio communications? Hell yes! Bluetooth is a God send. But is it necessary for the use case we've described? No.

        Omnidirectional is great, but that extra flexibility means extra controls. You absolutely gotta have:

        • Device ID
        • Security/Encryption
        • Collisio
    • I can do it with bluetooth, but I have to pair it first (grrrr). In the bad old days of ir, all he had to do was point his phone at my laptop press send, then I accepted the transmission and it magically appeared on my desktop. Sweet.

      That is a gross over-simplification. IR doesn't "just work", except perhaps in Windows XP. Even if you do get it going, it's still limited to modem-like speeds. Getting "Fast IR" (4meg) working is a joke; I once worked in a laptop factory and had to monitor the IRDA testing s

      • IrDA just works on the Newton. When there were quite a few of us around using them we used to selectively exchange data all the time; it was fast and easy. I also wrote quite a few lectures on a Newton and printed them via IrDA on an HP printer with an IrDA port -- no muss, no fuss.

        People trying to use IrDA for Internet access I think are missing the point. It works quite well for quick one-shot exchanges, though.

      • "if it could interface with TV's etc and input stimulus from other remotes"

        I'm sorry, but I have to insist you put down that crackpipe slowly. I've used my palmpilot IIIc as a remote, easy. I've even used it to learn the commands of non-tv remotes. I've used my IIIc's ir (and now my t3's) to re-program those scrolling LED signs, easy.
        Swapping files with friends was easy and foolproof too. I'm sorry your 'lab setup' couldn't get a reliable setup going [and I'me REALLY surprised, nay horrified that you couldn
        • I'm sorry, but I have to insist you put down that crackpipe slowly. I've used my palmpilot IIIc as a remote, easy.

          Palms are about the only IRDA devices that can. Laptops can't generally (I've owned at least three, had my mitts on at least 15 different models though various jobs), neither can pocket pc devices or serial IR dongles. Tried the lot. The IRDA standard is quite different from the Consumer IR standard and it is a fluke that the Palm IRDA drivers can be used to emulate it. While you can get simil

  • I'll be able to change tv channel faster than ever!
  • bluetooth and irda have the same range

    bluetooth is more convenient since irda requires line of sight

    well, we always talk about a trade off between convenience and security, and there is the tradeoff right there

    so i think broadband irda has a blockbuster future

    because security concerns are nothing to sniff at in a marketplace full of it departments spooked by security scares
    • The thing your missing is that its a lot easier to lose parts of the transmission with IR transmissions vs radio transmissions.

      Increasing the baud rate means decreasing the reliability.

      There are already plenty of PDAs with irda that won't work with each other because of problems picking up the signal. This will only get worse.

      I'm not looking forward to ever being required to use one of the least reliable transfer protocols on a regular basis. Hopefully this won't take off.
    • " bluetooth and irda have the same range"

      Oh, man, is that a misleading statement! :P

      What class of bluetooth are you talking about? What power IrDA?

      Bluetooth and irda have the same range...lol! Good one :)

      And when you include 'irda iis line of sight' as a security feature...I really hope you're not talking corporate/military or whatever other serious security...'cause the fact that you're walking in and out of a secure area with a device that can store/recieve data is itself a security risk.
    • bluetooth and irda have the same range

      USB Class 1 devices have a range of 100m. 10m for IRDA would be a miracle.

  • I recently completed my individual project for University, which consisted of a cheap device that could store and distribute media to mobile devices (for use in shops, etc). I had huge problems with this project, not because of the protocols, which are actually very well written and offer high transfer rates, but in fact with the lack of utilisation in industry. I was unable to find any mobile phones for example that support FIR or VFIR, meaning they could only transmit at 0.1Mbps. This combined with the

  • Isn't IR outdated? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Sonic McTails (700139)
    Most devices made now adays don't even have IR ports. Apple stopped equiping their devices with IRda ages again (the titamium PowerBook G4 700MHz I think was the laste one), and it's very rare when I see a laptop with it. IR on cell phones is even rarer - I think Nokia is the only company that still really sells phones with IRda, and Palm is the only company still really pushing behind IRda. What was the point of updating a protocal that has be replaced in the computer world?
    • The T637 made by Sony Ericcson, which is fairly recent, still provides IR. IRda, IMHO is more suited for contact exchange instead of sustained transfer rates.
    • They stopped them because of the slow datarate. Todays when a photo (even compressed) takes ~800 KBytes and an MP3 ~4 MBytes, would take a while to send it to the notebook using IrDA. 100Mbit (as advertised) would be enough for thoose applications. I think if such technology would be available at equivalent or even lower price than Bluetooth a lot of manufacturers would "buy it".

      BTW! There are some chipmakers which are still considering IrDA:
      http://www.smsc.com/whatsnew/pr/usb2230pr.html [smsc.com]
  • IR devices are kinda neat. I've never used one personally, and the drivers for my laptop IR port stopped working when I went up to the 2.6 kernel way back when, but I have seen people at my old roommates work just plot their laptop or palm down next to an HP printer and instantly be able to connect and print via IR.

    I like the fact that this new speed increase doesn't involve buying new hardware, which will help it a lot considering IR is starting to fade out.

    IR has its limitations, such as line of sight and
  • by glug101 (911527) on Wednesday August 31, 2005 @09:12AM (#13444872)

    Ok, long time reader, first time poster, great website love the topic....

    Infra red communication holds a lot of promise for small portable devices. Yes, it is line of site, but that is an advantage for secure connections. So and so on the street can't hack your pda while it's in your pocket, for instance.

    Another advantage is the low power consumption. The led's used for this convert >99% of the electricity put into them into usable light. (real world performance for the system might vary) I don't know what the efficiency is for blue tooth, but I would be surprised if it's that good for ANY rf based device.

    I have used ir on my palm device and it works great (if slow thanks to the UART limit). Simple and efficient. Point and send. Wouldn't use it to surf the internet for any long period of time, but I wouldn't want to on a device that small anyway. (no screen real estate)

    • The led's used for this convert >99% of the electricity put into them into usable light.

      Is that actually true? There must have been some major advances in LED efficiency recently, because I was under the impression that it was more like 30-40% at the high end.

      A quick Google only gave efficiencies in lumens per watt and I'm far too lazy to try and work it out.
  • IR's biggest fault is always going to be line-of sight as it is somethimes difficult to balance two laptops on a desk pointing at one another.

    Bluetooth is quite good but needs more bandwidth perhaps a good solution for w/l Personal Area Networks would be a form of 802.11g that only had a range of say 5 to 10 meters.
  • It takes so long for my cable box to change channels.
  • I can change channels on my new hidef tv quicker now!
  • Umm.. k. (Score:3, Funny)

    by Silverlock (36154) <kale.duncan@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Wednesday August 31, 2005 @02:38PM (#13447757)
    "This new protocol promises to deliver possible speed up to 100Mbit/s transfer rates."

    Why don't you just say "doesn't"?

If a 6600 used paper tape instead of core memory, it would use up tape at about 30 miles/second. -- Grishman, Assembly Language Programming