Intel has developed a software-defined radio that can handle Wi-Fi, WiMAX, and DVB-H digital TV all in one chip. The problem it addresses is that of too many radios, according to system architect Jeff Hoffman.

The idea is that this one-chip solution will connect to Wi-Fi when you’re at home, automatically switch over to a WiMAX network when you leave home, and also be able to access digital TV on the move. All digital signal processing and forward error correction for the various protocols will be done in one chip rather than three separate fixed function Application Specific Integrated Circuits (ASICs).

Excerpt from Electronics Weekly:

The chip tapes out next week and uses nine processing elements in different combinations to handle the three protocols. The processing elements are linked by a network on chip for the data and a control bus using the open OCP bus protocol with an ARC 605 configurable processor as the system controller. This has been extended with a 32 x 32 fast multiplier to handle the network access, and provides 303DMIPS of performance at 233MHz with just 17mW of peak power.

The obvious benefit here is a reduced power requirement and a potentially lower cost due to the reduced Bill Of Material (BOM). What is not clear at the moment is whether the technology can be extended to support other forms of wireless technologies, such as Bluetooth or even Wireless USB.