updated 11:45 am EDT, Fri April 4, 2008
Intel has developed a technology for future computers that will greatly simplify synchronizing Wi-Fi devices, the company has revealed at its Developer Forum in Shanghai. So far nicknamed only "Cliffside," the technique effectively splits a Wi-Fi connection into public and private links. One connects to the local network for Internet access and other typical services; the other creates a Personal Area Network similar to Bluetooth or Wireless USB meant solely to connect the user's nearby devices.
The approach will let as many as eight portable media players, digital cameras, or other devices sync wirelessly with a computer without requiring a nearby router and should enable this over wider ranges than possible with most PAN hardware, which is often limited to 30 feet or less. It would also connect much faster than Bluetooth's current 3Mbps, reaching the maximum speed of the Wi-Fi access supported by the computer.
The feature would more readily allow ad-hoc networks between computers, similar to a wireless networking option currently present in Mac OS X. PANs created with Cliffside could enable the same WEP or WPA encryption as regular Wi-Fi to prevent unauthorized access.
Intel considers the invention a research project at this time and doesn't say if or when it plans to introduce Cliffside with a future notebook platform.