SAN JOSE, Calif. With chip sets and single-chip solutions now being sampled, and the software drivers and utilities being qualified, wireless USB (WUSB) system hardwareWUSB hubs, host dongles and peripheralswon't be far behind.
The potential market for WUSB nodes is huge, with an estimated 11 million nodes in 2007 growing to over 300 million nodes by the year 2010 according to market research presented at the Certified WUSB developer's conference here by Jeff Ravencraft, the president and chairman of the USB Implementer's Forum.
The goal of WUSB is to eliminate the USB cable tethers that connect peripherals to their host computers, thus giving users the freedom to wirelessly connect to printers, cameras and many other peripherals at full USB 2.0 high-speed transfer rates of 480 Mbits/s.
To accomplish this, the WUSB solutions must be effortless, secure, and reliable, said Fred Bhesania, the lead program manager for WUSB at Microsoft Corp. Without these three aspects, user adoption will falter and return rates of hardware to the vendors will escalate since most potential users don't want to read set-up manuals and install drivers and step through complex set-up procedures. At Microsoft, drivers for Windows XP and the forthcoming Vista operating systems will provide seamless connectivity, with Beta copies of the drivers now available to IHVs (independent hardware vendors), stated Bhesania.
One of the thorniest issues with UWB has been getting the spectrum approvals in all countries to truly make WUSB a worldwide standard said Stephen Wood, president of the WiMedia Alliance. Now, thanks to efforts of the Alliance, consumer devices will soon interoperate as hundreds of industry players commit their resources to ensure interoperability.
Currently the U.S. has committed the spectrum for WUSB, while Japan is expected to approve it in July. Korea, Europe and Canada are also expected to approve the spectrum in the second half of 2006, while China will take until early 2007 to get the spectrum allocation approved. Thus, by the end of the first quarter of 2007, WUSB should be a worldwide standard, stated Wood.
In addition to the spectrum, interoperability is a key concern to ensure users have a true UWB wireless personal area network. To that end, a interoperability testing event held several months ago allowed six vendors of UWB physical (PHY) interface solutions (Alereon Inc., Realtek Semiconductor, Staccato Communications, WiQuest Communications, Wisair and TZero Technologies Inc.) to test their chip-level implementations.
At the same time, test vendors such as Agilent, LeCroy, and Tektronix were able to demonstrate the ability to do analytical measurements on the PHYs, including tests such as error vector magnitude, power spectral density and various signal-quality measurements to ensure compliance to the PHY specification set forth by the Alliance, explained Wood.
At this week's Certified WUSB conference, additional interoperability demonstrations showed the ability of various vendors to talk to other vendor's hardware. The first five-way multivendor interoperability demonstration based on Certified WUSB at the conference illustrated the interoperability between multiple media access controllers (MACs) and PHYs.
In one example, a laptop with an Intel host adapter that incorporates an Alereon PHY transferred data to a Philips Semiconductor subsystem that combines a Realtek PHY and Philips MAC, all using Windows XP and drivers supplied by Microsoft. Many companies also displayed production and near-production-ready silicon and silicon-germanium implementations of WUSB solutions.