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60GHz ICs to deliver 3Gb/s of data using less than 2W

Posted: 25 Jul 2012 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Wilocity? Marvell? Beam Networks? Peraso Technologies? WiFi?

Wilocity has revealed that it will team up with Marvell to deliver modules that use the startup's 60GHz chips together with Marvell's WiFi silicon. Likewise, Beam Networks and Peraso Technologiesa couple of startupssaid they will unveil their 60GHz chips within six to nine months. All the chips are based on the IEEE 802.11ad standard promoted by the WiGig Alliance created in 2009.

The wireless devices will deliver more than 3Gb/s of data using less than 2W, but face hurdles building new markets, the companies indicated.

Chip makers face several challenges creating a broad market for the new 60GHz components. They have to convince multiple OEMs to adopt the chips to establish a value proposition for end users. But OEMs are focused on a transition from today's mainstream 802.11n products to the new 802.11ac standard that promises data rates of 1Gb/s at 5GHz.

Wilocity expects PC makers will announce before the end of the year notebooks and bundled docking stations with the WiFi modules from Qualcomm. The Wilocity 60GHz chips in the modules will enable a new feature of wireless docking, the company stated.

Next, Wilocity will turn its efforts to getting the chips designed into peripherals such as external hard drives, and eventually access points, mainly leveraging its new collaboration with Marvell.

Both Marvell and Qualcomm took stakes of less than ten percent of Wilocity's equity as part of the partnerships. The deals with the big chip makers provide the startup leverage convincing OEMs to use the new WiGig technology to enable new user scenarios.

"There is market making we need to do here," said Mark Grodzinsky, VP of marketing at Wilocity. "The easiest way to get [60GHz] to market is going into the [notebook] docking station because the PC maker can bundle [the dock]. Users won't spend more money on a high performance wireless upgrade [for notebooks] if there is nothing to connect to."

The Wilocoty/Qualcomm module is sampling now.

Long term, Wilocity and other WiGig Alliance members hope the 60GHz technology becomes a mainstream standard supported in all WiFi products.

So far the alliance has been too "focused on personal-area apps and video links rather than IP-based WLANs," said Craig Mathias, principal of market watcher Farpoint Group. Nevertheless "the potential for 60GHz in WLANs is quite good," he added.

Products based on the 5GHz 802.11ac standard just now coming to market may have difficulty achieving their promise of Gb/s data rates because they need 80GHz and even 160GHz channels. Thus "the door for 60GHz in WLANs is wide open [at least] for the power-user segment, but I'm not sure the industry wants to walk through it at present," Mathias stated.

Indeed, the ".11ac standard took a lot of people's attention this yearit's seen as a .11n replacement," said Grodzinsky. "Now people are looking at what else is interesting and finding the .11ac boost is nice and necessary but this [60GHz technology] is the real game changer."

- Rick Merritt
??EE Times

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