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WiGig to show its true colors this week


Published: 20 October, 2011


WiGig will go to its first plugfest in just a few days. We hear that as many as ten chip suppliers will take part. More will join, and the signs are this will be a hugely healthy chip genre, tantamount to a superfast Bluetooth running at real world speeds of up to 6 Gbps, at distances of a few meters across a room. There could be immense volumes to be had as HDMI, Wireless USB and Displayport wires are replaced, as well as WiFi style networking applications.

But this will be an aggressive cut-throat world, much the same as WiFi was. First mover advantage is vital and so far we have only heard of 3 chips - the most complete a WiFi hybrid from Qualcomm Atheros working with specialist Wilocity; one from WirelessHD doyen SiBeam, now owned by Silicon Image and another from Panasonic, to go inside a handset. Now 6 or 7 other swill join the party which will emerge slowly from the second half of 2012 until the second quarter of 2013 by which time all the participants should be in play.

WiGig relies on the use of 60 GHz carriers, travelling a short distance, some two meters, to connect any high speed device to another in a line of sight. It cannot go through walls. It is a cousin of the WiFi standard and is being pushed by many of the same companies.

The real challenge is getting WiGig into CMOS and then after that volumes will dictate pricing. Some people see WiGig used in public places like airports, in the same way as WiFi, but used to drive HD video based media hotspots instead of hotspots. This would mean putting them on a 10Gb Ethernet cable and putting four or five WiGig access points around a seating area. That could give wide video selection at blazing speeds. Such scenarios will also lead to even greater chip shipments.

WiGig has so much bandwidth that it can cope with uncompressed video, and the way PC screens are addressed is connect using I-Frames only, with no in between frames, using Profile 44 of the H.264 codec. This would lead to immensely high quality video with little processing needed at either end, but plenty of bandwidth.

The other six or seven suppliers taking silicon to the plugfest could include any of the majors in the WiGig Alliance such as Intel, NEC, Nokia, Samsung, Toshiba, Texas Instruments, Marvell, Realtek or Broadcom.

First devices may operate as slowly as 3 Gbps to 4 Gbps on the first cut of the PHY, and then later gradually rise up towards the theoretical maximum of 7 Gbps when built in 40nm to 45 nm geometry. It's going to be a bumpy ride.

For a full analysis of this subject go to and order this week's Faultline issue.

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