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60GHz radio spec readies for rollout

Posted: 16 Aug 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:60GHz radio? home networking? specification rollout?

The WirelessHD group has released for final review its specification for 60GHz radios for short-range, high-bandwidth home networking. The spec should be generally available soon, along with the names of semiconductor companies that are new members of the group.

That was the news from an interview last June with SiBeam Inc., a startup formed to deliver CMOS chips based on the technology. SiBeam helped start the WirelessHD group, which was announced last November.

The WirelessHD group was supposed to announce its spec earlier this year, but the effort has been delayed a few months. "All these standards efforts are like herding cats, but the spec is essentially complete," said SiBeam CEO John LeMoncheck.

The startup has a demonstration of a working 60GHz radio transmitting 1,080-line progressive video wirelessly over about 10m. It is based on an FPGA, since the specification was too recently finished to support an ASIC implementation.

The 60GHz spec will define two networks that work in tandem. A primary beam-forming 60GHz network will deliver multiple gigabits per second of bandwidth for transmitting uncompressed high-definition video between devices within a room. A secondary omnidirectional network capable of "tens of megabits per second" will continuously look for and negotiate with devices within its 10m range. It will use device discovery techniques particular to the 60GHz spec, but apparently will not interfere with existing mechanisms supporting other device discovery techniques, such as those defined by the Universal Plug and Play Forum.

LeMoncheck said that SiBeam will be a fabless company, focused on generating revenue from sales of its 60GHz CMOS chips. Any intellectual property royalties it generates will be modest, he said. "It is not part of our business model to make significant money on IP. We want to compete in chip implementation," he said.

Design firepower
The startup clearly has the firepower to focus on chip design. It has hired two senior technical executives from Wi-Fi chip designer Atheros as well as another from Silicon Image.

"I am really proud of the team we have assembled," said LeMoncheck.

SiBeam expects to announce its OmniLink60 products at or before the Consumer Electronics Show in January. Other members of the WirelessHD group will deliver their own merchant silicon for 60GHz radios, competing with UWB companies such as Pulse-Link, Tzero and Alereon.

- Rick Merritt
EE Times

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