World's smallest 3G modem is about the size of a penny

In an attempt to get into the wearables market early, Intel has developed a groundbreaking new 3G modem; only 300 sq mm in size. In layman's terms, this is around the size of a penny.

Intel has named the modem XMM™ 6255 - Catchy eh? Their intention in building a component like this is to become a key supplier of the coming wearables market. A smaller, more powerful modem to transmit information quickly and wirelessly is essential to the future of technology; especially to the ever expanding and explored "Internet of Things" (or IoT for short).

Becuase the modem is so small, a pair of glasses or a watch might also function as a device with which to view your E-Mails or Twitter without the need to be tethered to a smartphone. With hundreds of other potential examples of application for this product, Intel appears even more of a contender as technology becomes more compact.

And size isn't everything when it comes to this modem: the chip has its own power supply as well as power management packed into its tiny surface area but most impressively, it copes with 'low signal network coverage' very well. The modem can pick up signal in areas where signal is sparse, without the need for large 3G antennae to boost its signal, making it ideal for small form-factors.

Source: Intel |Image: Intel

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I wonder whether this is part of Intel's long term wireless play of making the whole chip digital - they were talking about it a while ago:

http://semiaccurate.com/2012/09/25/intel-shows-of-a-fully-digital-radio/

What would hobbyists do with this? It won't have a USB connector or bus, it'll be something specific that you won't have oh any old PC.
Like with touchpads, keyboards, fingerprint sensors etc. in laptops, they'll work in that model laptop and usually that model only.

other than people who actually design and layout their own PCBs for their own projects, there are companies who prebuild these boards and modules that easily plug into your dev board or custom board and you're off to go. right now, to get a 3G modem, you end up with a big clunky modem with a big ass antenna that you must keep 20 inches away from your head.

Hobbyists and small-time designers don't make anywhere near enough to license the use of intel chips.
Also there's no official report to this chipset, it's an advertising 'sample' they use to get people to adopt it's use. This still needs an antenna, everything needs a good antenna otherwise the antenna efficiency is moot and the device is rubbish.

why would you need to license intel chips? this is a modem solution with a baseband,so it communicates to the outside world with standard protocols, uart, spi, smbus,etc..

and about the antenna, you can actually etch a good working antenna on your pcb without taking too much space. the big antenna im talking about are those thick dipoles in the current hobbyist modem solutions that prevent their use in small projects.

n_K said,
What would hobbyists do with this?
Make something like this even smaller: http://forum.43oh.com/topic/5788-msp430-tracker/

It won't have a USB connector or bus, it'll be something specific that you won't have oh any old PC.
Like with touchpads, keyboards, fingerprint sensors etc. in laptops, they'll work in that model laptop and usually that model only.
It's not a mini PCI-E module.
And they make modules like you mention for hobbyists.
Go check out sparkfun or adafruit or seeedstudio.

*edit- and it does support USB- "SARA-U2 modules include a high-speed USB 2.0 compliant interface with maximum throughput of 480 Mb/s.
The module itself acts as a USB device and can be connected to any USB host."
Page 14 / datasheet from uBlox.

Edited by abecedarian paradoxious, Aug 27 2014, 10:01pm :