Wireless transmission at rate in the order of 1000Mbps! It was once considered to be like the holygrail in wireless transmission. Well, now we have the Wireless HD and WiGig, which can scale these mountains. The new WiGig standard is coping with the possibility of multiple of 1000Mbps. We can transmit up to 7Gbps, albeit short range (in the form of 10 meters or so), all without any wires using WiGig over the 60GHz spectrum available, largely unused across the world. Come to think of it, 7Gbps is hell a lot of data for a tick duration of time. Just about 10 years ago, we would have easily brushed away the need for something like these, because we never really could fathom an application which needs these sack of data. But things changed since then. Now, we have the blue ray players and uncompressed HD video eminent for a wireless transfer to the high-definition displays.
Couple of months ago, the WiGig alliance and WiFi announced a co operative agreement to share the technical specification and compliance testing for the 60GHz and WiFi. So, from a standard point of view things are moving pretty fast. Afterall we seem to have learned from the atrocious delay in the many earlier standard evolution, most notoriously the IEEE 802.11n. A product compliant to WiGig/IEEE 802.11ad is still far away, but there is serious motivation to get the standard spec evolve.
There are two parallel drives on the 60GHz spectrum. In terms of productization, the non standard, some flavour of proprietary solutions are kind of available in the market. The Sibeam’s WirelessHD™ and Amimon’s propritery WHDI solutions on 5GHz spectrum are available now. On 60GHz only one product (as far as I know) is available and that is compliant to WirelessHD™.
By the way, the WirelessHD™ also published the 1.1 version of their consortium spec. The IEEE spec and WirelessHD™ are now showing no sighs of consensus, which is abad sign. Hopefully, at some stage these two merge and get one standard spec. My concern is that, in the event dual standard, there is potential interference between the two standard compliant products. The one chipset WirelessHD™ compliant which is available (not sure whether it is selling) is damn too expensive. So, we need tremendous price scaling down to make these things viable from a business point of view.
The WiGig product is unlikely to hit the market in the next 2 years, but it will come sooner than later. The three main applications of WiGig are (1) Short range streaming of uncompressed video for HDMI to HDMI devices (2) Desktop storage (which is much like the wireless USB once talked about highly during the UWB days).The much talked about USB3.0 will become an important requirement for this to happen. Intel will have to abide this transition on all processors, which I am sure will happen at some stage (3) Docking stations: Wireless transfer between monitor and docking station.
Pricing is going to be the single most bottleneck for WiGig to get into the mass market. Under $10 chipset is a bare minimum requirement to have any kind of penetration into the consumer electronic market. Learning from the way, things moved in the past, pricing problem can be scaled in a few years.
In my opinion, the killer need for 60GHz to succeed will be to get serious power savings. The antenna size will be significantly small (because of the higher carrier frequency) and perhaps that may perhaps be a silicon based integrated antenna. To get into portable devices, we may have a solution which stress less on battery. Can we look that ahead now, say 5 years from now?
The new spec has some very interesting features. While it consume 1.6GHz of bandwidth, with multiple antennas it calls for some sophisticated signal processing techniques to scale the 1GHz mountain. The radio design is extremely challenging. Above all, we need backward compatibility with the WiFi. I hope by then we can get away with those annoying IEEE 802.11b out of the box!
So, the days ahead are exciting. It is natural to pose this question: how much more on wireless? As Marconi’ said. “It is dangerous to put limit on wireless”. So true!