Intel’s ‘Moore’s Law Radio’ could transform the wireless world

Intel's Moore's Law Radio testing device

A better radio might not sound like an exciting new technology. The very word “radio” conjures images of Fibber McGee & Molly gabbing about Herbert Hoover while Pop relaxes from a hard day of selling apples for ten cents. But old-fashioned radio technology has been the base of all our smartphones, Wi-Fi connections, and wireless controllers, and it’s improved less than you’d think. That could change soon. At this week’s Intel Development Conference, Intel revealed what the company is calling the “Moore’s Law Radio,” and it could be the next step in transforming how our electronics work for us. 

The radios that run today’s connected devices have always had plenty of digital components, but many crucial components remained analog. Computer processors have been getting better at a mind-boggling clip thanks to Moore’s Law, which states that the number of transistors on a chip (and the computing power of that chip) doubles every two years.

But analog components aren’t subject to Moore’s Law. Analog components can’t be shrunk too far before they start sending stray electric pulses all over the place, they can’t use better processors to reduce power consumption, and they can’t be integrated into a modern production cycle.

For the last 10 years, Intel has been trying to make all of those analog radio functions happen digitally. And this week, the company showed off the culmination of its work: a completely digital Wi-Fi unit that fits onto a single chip. Besides being smaller than any previous Wi-Fi system, it’s also vastly more energy efficient, and ultimately will be much cheaper to build.

Intel is also unveiling a new wireless standard to go with the chip: WiGig, which consolidates a number of proprietary wireless technologies under one umbrella to deliver bandwidth over 5 gigabytes per second. And for good measure, Intel is also developing a vast Cloud Radio Access Network, which will allow Intel-based servers to act as wireless providers, giving faster service than today’s hubs with fewer dropped connections.

What all this means for consumers is a range of wireless applications that have been frustratingly out of reach for too long. Wireless connections that are cheap in terms of manufacturing cost and power consumption will enable a generation of phones and laptops that can be constantly downloading email,, news, and other data without devouring battery power. Many cities have talked about making their entire metro area wireless-enabled; this technology could make that kind of vast wireless network orders of magnitude cheaper and more reliable.

Better phones and laptops are just the start of how this technology can be applied. Ultimately, Intel’s vision is to create “the Internet of Things,” where every physical object has a wireless sensor and sends information to any other object that wants it. Intel CTO Justin Ratner is proposing a world where “If it computes, it connects.”  Cheap,  fast, low-power wireless technology means that everything from your monitor to your refrigerator to your dishwasher is always online, and always sending information, all without wires and all using less power than today’s netbooks. 

Home Theater

Logitech’s Harmony Express remote: a steep price for simplicity

Thanks to its built-in Alexa support, Logitech's latest remote, the Harmony Express, eliminates huge button layouts with voice commands to control all of your smart home gadgets. But at $250, is it worth it?
Gaming

Wired headphones are so 2018. Here's how to pair a Bluetooth device to your PS4

One of the best aspects of modern consoles is how easily you can pair them with other devices. Here's our quick primer on how to connect a Bluetooth headset (or really any Bluetooth device) to your PlayStation 4.
Home Theater

New TV? Here's where to go to watch the best 4K content available

Searching for content for your new 4K UHD TV? Look no further. We have every major source of the best 4K content, along with the cost, hardware requirements, and features that make each service worth a look.
News

Vivint’s latest home security camera is infused with artificial intelligence

The Vivint Outdoor Camera Pro uses advanced analytics to differentiate familiar faces from potentially dangerous intruders to keep your home safe and secure when suspicious activity occurs.
Computing

Former student uses USB Killer device to fry $58,000 worth of college’s PCs

A former student used a USB Killer device to short circuit more than $58,000 of computers at a private New York college earlier this year. The student pled guilty to the charges and sentencing is scheduled to begin in August.
Computing

AMD Ryzen CPU prices get slashed ahead of Ryzen 3000 release

AMD's Ryzen CPUs have had their prices slashed as we edge towards the release of their third generation. Whether you're a gamer or someone who needs multi-threaded performance, there's a deal for everyone with some heavy discounts to take…
Computing

The number pad on HP’s Chromebook 15 makes spreadsheet work a breeze

HP's Chromebook 15 comes with a 15.6-inch display, a metal keyboard deck with full-size keys, and a dedicated number pad, making it the second Chromebook model, following Acer's Chromebook 715, to be suited for spreadsheet work.
Computing

Worried about your online privacy? We tested the best VPN services

Browsing the web can be less secure than most users would hope. If that concerns you, a virtual private network — aka a VPN — is a decent solution. Check out a few of the best VPN services on the market.
Computing

Gaming on a laptop has never been better. These are your best options

Gaming desktops are powerful, but they tie you down to your desk. For those of us who prefer a more mobile experience, here are the best gaming laptops on the market, ranging from budget machines to maxed-out, wallet-emptying PCs.
Computing

Here's how you can download the best free music players for your Mac

Tired of your Mac's default music player? Take a look at our picks for the best free music players available for your Apple rig. Whether you're a casual listener or an audiophile, you're sure to find something that fits your needs here.
Computing

Want to make calls across the internet for less? Try these great VOIP services

Voice over IP services are getting more and more popular, but there are still a few that stand above the pack. In this guide, we'll give you a few options for the best VOIP services for home and business users.
Gaming

Transform into the ultimate leader with our tips and tricks for Civilization 6

Civilization VI offers both series veterans and total newcomers a lot to chew on from the get-go. Here are some essential starting tips to help you master the game's many intricacies.
Computing

AMD’s 2020 Ryzen CPUs could have a big boost in power efficiency

The sequel to AMD's Zen 2-based Ryzen 3000 CPUs is slated for a 2020 release and when it arrives, could leverage the new Zen 3 architecture to deliver impressive gains to performance and power efficiency.
Computing

The iPhone’s Screen Time and Siri Shortcuts could land on Macs this year

For its desktop computers, it appears that Apple may continue to draw from the iPhone for inspiration. iOS 12 features, like Screen Time and Siri Shortcuts, are believed to be making their way to MacOS this year at WWDC in June.