- By David Cardinal on January 11, 2012 at 7:00 am
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The Wireless Gigabit Alliance (WiGig for short) is about to change all that with its multi-gigabit per second standard for low-cost wireless communications. This week, at CES 2012, Wilocity announced and demoed the first chipsets to implement the WiGig standard across a variety of devices including laptops, keyboards, mice, TVs, and wireless hard drives — and their availability to OEM customers for designing into products. Amazingly, all these devices can communicate with each other at seemingly infinite speeds with WiGig. Gigabyte files were transferred in only a few seconds — dozens of times faster than on even the best current WiFi network.
The new standard, labeled as 802.11ad, provides for over 5 gigabits per second (Gbps) per pair of devices, and by using a very cool way of shaping the actual radio waves, pairs of devices don’t interfere with each other the way they do on traditional WiFi bands. Pictured right is the image of a demo I watched with a full 1080p movie playing on a wireless device across to a laptop, which in turn was re-broadcasting it in realtime wirelessly to a display. It ran without missing a beat, even when they spun the laptop around and hid it under the furniture. Wilocity also demoed a wireless connection to an SSD hard drive enclosed in stereo furniture which maxed out at over 1Gbps, as measured at the operating system level using a Windows disk drive benchmarking utility.
Initially, WiGig will likely be integrated as a high-end upgrade for WiFi on new laptops and other computers — with the chips only costing a few dollars more in quantity than current WiFi chips, and also supporting backwards compatibility with current 802.11 standards and even Bluetooth. Best yet, they are designed to be form factor compatible with current WiFi modules. Over time it is likely other devices will get connected this way too. One obvious market is high-performance peripherals for ultrabooks, netbooks, tablets, and phones, which don’t have the connector space or power to support wired devices.
WiGig is not the only possible upgrade path for current 802.11n solutions. There is also an 802.11ac standards effort, which updates “n” to higher speeds, but is confined to the same bands — unlike WiGig which uses the wide-open 60GHz band — and has many of the same limits, making WiGig a favored choice for anyone building with an eye on the future. The higher frequency used has led to concerns about line of sight issues, but the units Wilocity demonstrated today ran flawlessly through walls, cabinets and office furniture.
While WiGig may be just around the corner for early adopters, it isn’t here quite yet. Wilocity is sampling parts to its customers now, and expects there to be products using their parts later this year. Wilocity is only the first of what will eventually be many vendors supporting the WiGig standard, so whether it is their chips that wind up in our computers or someone else’s, it is looking increasingly likely that homes and offices will have access to a lot more bandwidth within the next year or two.
Read more at Wilocity