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CE giants push 60GHz high-def home nets

Posted: 09 Nov 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:WirelessHD? LG Electronics? Samsung? Matsushita? NEC?

Six top consumer electronics companies are defining a 60GHz radio technology to bring high definition media to the home network.

LG Electronics Inc., Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd, NEC Corp., Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd, Sony Corp. and Toshiba Corp. along with wireless startup SiBeam Inc. announced that they have formed WirelessHD. The group will deliver early next year a specification for multi-Gbps home networking.

The WirelessHD group promises a technology that will handle secure near line-of-sight communications with smart antenna technology across a 10m range. Applications include streaming 1,080-progressive video from media and broadcast players, game machines or PCs to TVs or home theater systems.

The spec also aims to address file transfers between camcorders, cameras, DVD recorders and TVs. Latency should be as little as 5ms to 15ms.

The group aims to use unlicensed spectrum in the 57-64GHz range in the United States where transmit power up to 10W is permitted. In Europe and Japan, it will use the 59-66GHz bands.

Press materials provided for the launch raise a host of questions that remain unanswered. For example, a WirelessHD presentation suggests the technology could be related to the emerging IEEE 802.15.3c standard for short range, line-of-sight uses. However, it's not clear just how the group's efforts relate to the IEEE initiative.

It's also unclear how the group will make its technology available and how it will compete with a host of other options ranging from ultrawideband (UWB), 802.11n and wired HDMI and DVI links. PC companies, generally supporting the 200Mbps wireless USB version of UWB, are not part of the initial launch.

In addition, the group claims it will use "error protection, framing and timing control techniques for a quality consumer experience." However, it does not specify how its approach to quality-of-service (QoS) works or how it relates to other QoS schemes emerging in home networking.

Presumably startup SiBeam will provide some of the first chips the group will use. How that technology will be made available to other chip makers remains to be seen.

"WirelessHD will provide consumers wireless flexibility and ease of use while preserving the benefits traditionally associated with popular wired alternatives for point-to-point display, such as HDMI and DVI," said Brian O'Rourke, a senior analyst with In-Stat, in a prepared statement. "The data rates WirelessHD will support are truly impressive," he added.

"WirelessHD has great potential to be adopted rapidly in the consumer electronics segment. It should first appear in adapter products, followed by digital televisions and projectors, DVD players, and set-top boxes," said O'Rourke.

In-Stat/MDR notes that global sales of devices with a high-speed digital A/V interface is expected to grow from 60 million units in 2006 to 495 million units in 2009.

- Rick Merritt
EE Times

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