SAN JOSE, Calif. Intel Corp. hosted a gathering of about 120 researchers this week as part of an effort to drive toward a standard for 60-GHz wireless networks that could serve a broad range of computer and consumer systems. Currently two separate efforts at the IEEE are working on 60-GHz standards, targeting different uses.
The IEEE 802.15.3c group on wireless personal area networks is in an early draft stage for a standard that would enable multiple Gbits/second of throughput aimed at links between devices such as flat-panel TVs and set-top boxes. A separate IEEE 802.11 study group on very high throughput (VHT) wants to use 60 GHz to create a version of Wi-Fi with data rates up to a Gbit/second. The two groups have been debating possible overlap in their efforts since June.
"We want an interoperable solution that goes across multiple use cases and products and avoids a fragmented ecosystem," said Alan Crouch, general manager of Intel's Communications Technology Lab in Hillsboro, Oregon. "We need to not optimize for one particular use case or product," said Crouch whose lab hosted the two-day workshop on 60 GHz this week.
Startup SiBeam has announced silicon that delivers multiple Gbits/s of throughout at 60 GHz for consumer systems linked to flat-panel TVs. It is based on the draft 15.3c specification as well as a spec completed in January from the ad hoc WirelessHD consortium of consumer electronics companies it helped organize.
To date, some 15.3c members have suggested the VHT effort is not significantly different enough to warrant launch a new standard effort based on it. It's not clear whether SiBeam or any 15.3c members attended the Intel event. For its part, Intel is a member both of the WirelessHD group and chairs the VHT effort.
Crouch said a wide variety of PCs, peripherals and consumer and mobile devices want to use 60-GHz networks for high throughput at distances of one to ten meters. Senior researchers from Broadcom and Panasonic at the event talked about use of 60 GHz in handhelds, he said.
"It's important that we get all the industry players interested in 60 GHz engaged with these [IEEE] groups," Crouch said. He expressed confidence the event would influence engineers who will in turn influence the ongoing standards efforts.
"We need to let the IEEE process work," Crouch said. "There are a number of proposals on the table and in the coming months we hope to get clarity from the IEEE."
At the Hillsboro meeting, researchers discussed what Crouch called "some of the remaining technical difficulties with 60 GHz."
The issues included propagation losses of up to 20 dB at 60 GHz. The group also heard about ways to use directional antennas to handle penetration loss when a person walks between two 60-GHz devices.