The long courtship between the Wi-Fi Alliance and the Wireless Gigabit Alliance, which promotes a fast wireless LAN technology that runs on very high frequencies, is set to end in marriage just a little too late for the International CES trade show next week.
Under a memorandum of understanding reached just last week, the WiGig Alliance is to be folded into the Wi-Fi group, which will take over all WiGig development and promotion activities. The organizations expect the deal to become final by the end of this quarter, said Kelly Davis-Felner, marketing and program management director at the Wi-Fi Alliance.
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WiGig can deliver up to 7Gbps (bits per second) of theoretical throughput, much more than even the 802.11ac flavor of Wi-Fi that is now coming out in many network and mobile devices. But because it operates over 60GHz spectrum, it is intended mostly for use within a room. Vendors are aiming the system initially at device-to-device functions such as wireless docking, synchronization, and linking to displays.
The WiGig Alliance kicked off its effort to standardize the high-speed but relatively short-range system in 2009 and forecast it would be on the market in 2011. But despite the backing of big names including Intel, Broadcom, and Microsoft, there still are no certified WiGig products or even a program to officially approve them. Some of those involved in the effort have said the technology, which operates in the super-high frequency range of 60GHz, has proved more challenging than was expected.
Certification tests are now expected around December of this year, with approved products going on sale soon after, Davis-Felner said. Under the new agreement, that program will be run by the Wi-Fi Alliance, the successful and powerful industry group that's behind the wireless LAN standard and its many extensions.
Products based on the current state of the technology are set to go on sale early in the year and shouldn't face problems working with later certified products, according to Mark Grodzinsky, vice president of marketing at Wilocity, a maker of 60GHz chips that has been active in the WiGig Alliance. Wilocity has deals to build its silicon into chipsets from Qualcomm Atheros, Marvell, and other wireless vendors, Grodzinsky said.
The first product to hit the market with the technology will be the Dell Latitude 6430U Windows 8 ultrabook, equipped with a combination Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and pre-standard WiGig chipset from Qualcomm Atheros and Wilocity, he said. Other laptops equipped with it will come soon after, Grodzinsky said.
The first use for WiGig in those products will be wireless docking. Laptop makers will sell docking stations, equipped with wired ports for USB devices, monitors, and other peripherals, to which slim laptops will be able to connect via the wireless technology, Grodzinsky said. Wilocity's first chip, optimized for cost and power consumption, won't run at 7Gbps but will be able to fill the 2.5Gbps PCI Express bus in a laptop, he said.
Tablets, access points, and storage products with the technology will probably go on sale later this year, he said.