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Wireless Gigabit 60GHz spec delivers 1-7Gbit/s

Posted: 14 Dec 2009 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:60GHz spectrum? Wi-Fi? HDMI?

The Wireless Gigabit Alliance (WiGig) previewed its specification for 60GHz links capable of sending data at rates of 1-7Gbit/s. The ad hoc group includes top Wi-Fi chipmakers aiming to address a wide variety of computer and consumer applications.

Analysts praised the effort for its ambitious aims that include supporting wireless versions of HDMI, DisplayPort, PCIe and USB using protocol adaption layers (PALs). But they noted the approach has challenges in its range, time-to-market and a still undefined link to existing Wi-Fi standards groups.

The spec is under review by the more than 20 members of the group formed in May 2009, who are expected to ratify it before April. However, products based on it are not expected to ship until 2011 when interoperability tests and certifications labs are in place.

Startup SiBeam has had 60GHz chips available for more than a year for the competing technology specified by the WirelessHD group and based on the IEEE 802.15.3c standard. However, the chips are relatively costly, high in power consumption and only aim at wireless HDMI replacement in TVs and STBs.

Earlier this week, the WHDI Consortium announced it has completed a spec for a second generation of the 5GHz technology from startup Amimon for wireless video. Separately, several companies are implementing versions of the current 802.11n spec with multiple antennas to target similar uses.

"I think it's more likely that the 60GHz band will transmit an in-room signal around the consumer electronics cluster [in the living room], while .11n will provide whole-home coverage," said Brian O'Rourke, a principal analyst for In-Stat.

The WiGig effort is "a complicated and bold move," he said. "Multiple PALs adds complexity to a system, which increases the chances of problems," he added.

Not a general purpose spec
The WiGig spec is being written as an extension to the IEEE 802.11 standard. However, the group so far has no formal link to the Wi-Fi Alliance or the 802.11ad group still in an early phase of setting a formal 60GHz standard.

The spec defines the 60GHz PHY and a media access controller optimized for that band. It also describes techniques for beam forming, similar to those used by the WirelessHD group, enabling links over distances up to 10m.

The WiGig approach includes a range of existing modulation and coding schemes that cover data rates spanning 1-7Gbit/s. All links are required to default to a minimum Gbit/s capability suitable for handheld devices, however they can each build on additional features for higher levels of performance.

"This is a key differentiator of our specit's like layers of onion," said Mark Grodzinsky, who chairs the WiGig marketing group and is vice president of marketing at Wilocity.

"When we were formed it was with the consensus there wasn't a general purpose 60GHz standard that would be useful for multiple apps from handheld devices to set tops, TVs and PCs," said Ali Sadri, president of the WiGig Alliance and a director of short-range wireless standards at Intel.

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