60GHz Wi-Fi coming next year

Summary:Why do we use cables at all? Why not a wireless standard fast enough - over 4 Gbps - to handle all our home devices: GigE, SATA, video and USB 3.0? If the WiGig Alliance has their way, we will.

Why do we use cables at all? Why not a wireless standard fast enough - over 4 Gbps - to handle all our home devices: GigE, SATA, video and USB 3.0? If the WiGig Alliance has their way, we will.

The goal Replace all cables - except power/charging cables - with wireless that is fast enough to run any and all home network and device protocols: storage; video; network; PCIe; and USB.

What it is A 60 GHz, wide channel (57-66 GHz), power-efficient, 7 Gbps raw (4.6 Gbps payload) wireless channel. Running on a wi-fi backwards compatible chipset, giving you at least what you have now and more as you add new WiGig devices.

Who's doing it The WA is partnered with the Wi-Fi Alliance to drive this. The IEEE 802.11ad committee is developing a formal spec. And Wilocity, a new company, has partnered with Atheros to deliver a tri-band (2.4, 5 and 60 GHz) chipset.

Intel and Broadcom are also involved in the standards setting, meaning they are likely to produce chipsets as well.

Power efficiency WiGig is ideal for wireless devices that are too small for attaching a lot of cables and PCIe cards. But that's true only if it is power-efficient. And it is: 2 watts with 50µs latency.

When? Current 802.11ad schedule calls for finishing the spec in December 2012. But engineering projects never slip in - they always slip out. So figure 2013 for a completed spec.

But if the history of 802.11n is any guide vendors won't wait for a spec if the chips are ready. Expect pre-spec products late next year.

The Storage Bits take The ever-shifting bottlenecks in computing will move to mobile device architecture when WiGig ships. Few notebooks can drive any external device much beyond a gigabit today. And phones and tablets are far behind notebooks.

Don't expect wireless Nirvana. High-frequency signals can be easily stopped by many walls. Your WiGig network will look like islands of high-performance - living room, home office - not a seamless web of extreme bandwidth.

But it will still be a big improvement over today's slow Wi-Fi.

Comments welcome, of course. I saw the Wilocity preso at Storage Visions 2011, which is prior to CES. Now off to CES!

Topics: Telcos, Hardware, Mobility, Networking, Processors, Storage

About

Robin Harris is Chief Analyst at TechnoQWAN LLC, a storage research and consulting firm he founded in 2005. Based in Sedona, Arizona, TechnoQWAN focuses on emerging technologies, products, companies and markets. Robin has over 35 years experience in the IT industry and earned degrees from Yale and the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton... Full Bio

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