No wires! Intel demos wireless docking for Ultrabooks

WiGig technology promises to rid the computer desktop of wires, with products expected next year

Intel demonstrated a new technology on Thursday that promises to rid computers of many of the connectors and cables that are needed today to connect to a myriad of peripherals and other devices. Called WiGig, the technology has been under development since 2009 and aims to replace cables by using a high-bandwidth, high-frequency wireless data system.

At the Intel Developer Forum, Ali Sadri, president of the WiGig Alliance and director of millimeter wave technology at Intel, gave examples of video connections to monitors and TVs, PCI Express, and SDIO as some of the interfaces WiGig could replace.

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WiGig runs on spectrum in the 60GHz band -- frequencies considerably higher than today's Wi-Fi and suitable for short-range communications but highly susceptible to interference or blocking over longer ranges.

During the demonstration, the technology initially failed to work, a problem blamed on the demo laptop going to sleep while it was sitting on stage waiting to be used. (See the demonstration, and failure, in this YouTube video.)

When it did eventually work, Sadri demonstrated a WiGig link between a hard disk, laptop computer, and two monitors. The laptop, which was running on battery power so it had no wires attached, was streaming video from the hard disk and displaying it on the computer desktop, which was being displayed across two monitors.

WiGig isn't the first standard that's promised to rid the world of cables. Previous technologies have failed to catch on or come to market. In fact, WiGig was originally promised in 2010 but failed to materialize. Now the technology, backed by Intel and some other big names in the computer industry, is "very close to reality," said Sadri. A certification program for WiGig gear is expected to begin in the mid-2013 with products following later in the year, he said.

In July, the technology received a boost when Marvell Technology Group, a major manufacturer of Wi-Fi chipsets, said it plans to offer chips with WiGig support. Another chip maker, Atheros, had earlier said it plans similar chips.

Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for the IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is martyn_williams@idg.com

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