More startups, giants to weigh in
At least five other startups are working on WiGig products including Beam Networks (Rehovot, Israel); Blu-Wireless Technology (Bristol, U.K.); Nitero (Austin); Peraso Technologies (Toronto); and Tensorcom (Carlsbad, Calif.). Most declined to talk to EE Times at press time.
Peraso plans to announce a product in the first quarter targeting mobile systems, said chief executive Ron Glibbery, who declined to give more details. For its part, Beam Networks expects to discuss a 60 GHz transceiver before the end of the year, said a company spokeswoman.
Wilocity previously described its initial chip as a 65nm device named Marlin that consumes about 2W average power to deliver up to 3.5 Gbits/s of data. It is working on a second-generation chip called Sparrow it hopes will ship by the end of 2013 capable of 2.5 Gbits/s data rates while consuming 500 milliwatts of power, suitable for smartphones and tablets.
Market watcher Forward Concepts estimates as many as 1.3 billion handsets will support Wi-Fi in 2016, up from 508 million in 2011. “The vast majority are 802.11n, and we expect 802.11ac [the 5 GHz standard] to creep in [starting mid-2013], becoming dominant at over 50 percent by about 2016,” said principal Will Strauss.
So far, the WiGig Alliance has held two plugfests where vendors tested interoperability of their devices and plans more starting in November. Ten companies participated in the most recent event in late June where the full system (MAC, PHY and radio) was tested for the first time.
The 60 GHz technology appears to be set to offer unique value.
The chips could drive data rates as fast as 4.6 Gbits/s at 2.5W, said Grodzinsky. That’s far above both the 450 Mbit/s rates of today’s .11n chips and the roughly Gbit/s rates of the .11ac chips now appearing. At sub-watt rates needed for smartphones, 60 GHz promises rates up to 2.3 Gbits/s, again far above .11n and .11ac at roughly 150 and 433 Mbits/s, respectively.
Grodzinsky said costs of the 60 GHz solutions are roughly in line with where the .11n generation started before it hit high volumes. At the 65nm node, the Wilocity implementation requires separate baseband and radio chips, including a 16-element active antenna module for the RF portion.
Startup SiBeam, acquired in early 2011
by Silicon Image, started the 60 GHz push with a module aimed at set-top boxes and flat-screen TVs it first described in 2007
. The WiGig partners shifted the field, creating new specifications now baked into the IEEE standard that Silicon Image said it will support.
The IEEE standard is going through the final formalities of ratification but is not expected to change. Formal interoperability tests for the WiGig spec are expected to be in place by the end of the year.
Several shoes have yet to fall. Three of the largest Wi-Fi chip suppliers—Broadcom, Intel and Mediatek—have yet to reveal their plans for 60 GHz.