WiGig shows progress with 60 GHz specifications

WiGig shows progress with 60 GHz specifications

Technology News |
By eeNews Europe

WiGig published a version 1.1 of its MAC/Phy specification, cleaning up issues implementers found in the original draft and enhancing its preamble sequence and beam forming technology. The techniques can carry data at rates from 3 to 7 Gbits/second.

The group also published to adopters a so-called WiGig Bus Extension that essentially defines an adaption layer for running PCI Express on top of its 60 GHz technology. It expects to finish before the end of the year an adaption layer for USB it calls the WiGig Serial Extension.

WiGig is hopeful it can forge links with the PCI Special Interest Group and the USB Implementers Forum once the final 60 GHz specs are published in a few weeks. The deals could open the door to creating official certification programs for wireless USB and PCIe.

So far, WiGig has struck a relationship with the Video Electronics Standards Association and become a member of HDMI Licensing LLC so it can eventually release wireless adaption layers for DisplayPort and HDMI.

Last year, WiGig forged a deal with the Wi-Fi Alliance so its 60 GHz approach can be certified as a future generation of Wi-Fi. The group has aligned its technical approach with the existing IEEE 802.11ad standards effort on 60 GHz, said Ali Sadri, chairman of WiGig.

WiGig could have a certification program for its MAC/Phy spec ready in about a year. That would form the basis for certification programs for the higher layer protocols to follow in another six to 12 months.

Eight test companies–including Aeroflex, Hittite Microwave and Rohde & Schwarz–joined the WiGig Alliance in anticipation of the certification programs.

The first WiGig plugfests could be held as early as October. At least two companies—Panasonic and Qualcomm Atheros–have already announced chips for WiGig.

WiGig’s 60 GHz approach "looks like the winning recipe" for next-generation wireless, said Bruce Montag, a senior technologist at Dell and a WiGig board member.

Montag said the combination of 60 GHz as a follow on to today’s 802.11n Wi-Fi as well as a wireless display, dock and I/O link could make the technology pervasive and compelling. "If I can do all that wirelessly, I have less need for connectors and I can make thinner, lighter systems," he said.

WiGig "is the clear leader, and that’s where we are investing," said Bart Giordano, a director of product marketing in the wireless group at Marvell. "We are seeing a tremendous amount of OEM interest in the technology," he said.

As many as half the top PC makers will use 60 GHz in notebooks in 2012, Giordano predicted.

"I think [WiGig] has a very bright future ahead of it," said Craig Mathias, principal of consulting firm Farpoint Group (Ashland, MA).

There’s no shortage of competition. Startup SiBeam was first to market with a 60 GHz chip set aimed at wireless links for flat-screen TVs.

SiBeam’s WirelessHD technology gained backing from several top TV makers. However, last year the company said it will make its chip sets compliant with both WirelessHD and WiGig approaches. Silicon Image bid to buy the startup in April.

The WirelessHD MAC is based on the IEEE 802.16.3 standard. But Montag and others noted the Wi-Fi MAC used as the basis of WiGig has the greater potential given the number of vendors and volumes of chips using it.

Meanwhile, the IEEE 802.11ac group is working on a 5 GHz standard for Gigabit/s-class networking. It will have an edge propagating beyond a single room, compared to 60 GHz signals which generally cannot pass through walls.

On the other hand, the 60 GHz technology is more energy efficient, said Sadri. Others noted proponents of the 802.11ac spec will have difficulty getting regulatory support for the 80-160 MHz channels they need for higher bandwidth operations.

"I think the usage models [of WiGig and 802.11ac] will differ and each will find its own turf," said Sadri of WiGig.

"In 18-24 months all my chips will support 11ac," said Giordano of Marvell.

Separately, startups such as Amimon and Celano have developed their own high speed wireless links. However they are typically geared to specific applications.

"I tested the Amimon products and they work well with wireless video," said Mathias.

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