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Get ready for 7Gbps wireless networking

May 11, 2010 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 1 views

The Wireless Gigabit Alliance announced a specification it says will bump wireless networking speeds up to 7Gbps — more than ten times faster than the highest 802.11n rate. The organization also announced it will collaborate with the WiFi Alliance, ensuring that future devices are backward-compatible with today's 802.11 products.

According to the Wireless Gigabit Alliance (WGA), the WiGig version 1.0 specification describes devices that will operate in the 60GHz band, far higher than the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands used by today's wireless networking products. Data transmission rates will be up to 7Gbps, more than ten times faster than the highest 802.11n rate, the group says.

The WGA added that protocol adaptation layers are being developed to support specific system interfaces, including data buses for PC peripherals and display interfaces for HDTVs, monitors, and projectors. WiGig 1.0 will also support "beamforming," said to enable robust communication at distances beyond 32 feet (10 meters).

While WiGig 1.0 offers data rates qualifying it as a wireless replacement for even HDMI connectors or optical audio cables, range will be significantly more limited than that offered by traditional Wi-Fi bands. For example, it's said a WiGig access point likely won't be able to blanket an entire home, and, according to some, signals may even have trouble making it through walls.

For that reason, backward compatibility is key. The WGA announced a "cooperation agreement" with the Wi-Fi Alliance, and said the two groups will collaborate on a "next generation" certification program for WiGig devices. "A significant portion, if not all, [WiGig] devices are expected to also support traditional Wi-Fi networking in the 2.4 and 5 GHz bands," the WGA says.

Working with the Wi-Fi Alliance should give the WGA a boost as it works to establish its version of 60GHz wireless networking. An alternative 60GHz technology called WirelessHD is being promoted by SiBeam, which is already shipping its chips to consumer electronics manufacturers.

SiBeam touts WirelessHD as offering throughput of 28Gbps rather than WiGig's 7Gbps, but is positioning it as being more for video purposes than data networking. According to an IDG News Service report earlier today, SiBeam is now sampling dual-mode WirelessHD/WiGig chips.

Members of the WGA, formed in May 2009, constitute a who's who of the tech industry, including Atheros, Broadcom, Cisco, Dell, Intel, Marvell, Mediatek, Microsoft, NEC, Nokia, Nvidia, Panasonic, Samsung, Toshiba, and Wilocity. Many of these same companies are, of course, also members of the powerful Wi-Fi Alliance.

Wi-Fi Alliance chief executive officer Edgar Figueroa stated, "60 GHz device connectivity will be an exciting enhancement to the capabilities of today's Wi-Fi technologies. It will expand the utility of Wi-Fi, used by hundreds of millions of people every day. From its inception, the WiGig specification was designed to work on a wide variety of devices, making it a compelling input as we begin to define our certification program for 60GHz wireless."

Dr. Ali Sadri, president and chairman of the WiGig Alliance, stated, "Now that our specification is complete and published, it's time to set our sights on driving a great user experience through interoperability and certification. We are happy to work with the Wi-Fi Alliance to extend multi-gigabit capabilities to the Wi-Fi technology portfolio."


An overview of the WiGig 1.0 specification is available on the Wireless Gigabit Alliance website, here. The IDG News Service article citing SiBeam's production of dual-mode WirelessHD/WiGig silicon may be found on the PC World website, here.

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