The Wi-Fi Alliance has kicked off its latest certification program, for WiGig, the 60-GHz member of the 802.11 family (802.11ad). However, while the technology gained mainstream acceptance when it settled previous disputes between rival IEEE groups and converged with Wi-Fi, it is still not gaining that famous brand and will continue to be called WiGig.
The certification process will work in the same way as those for Wi-Fi branded products, to ensure interoperability within the 60-GHz band, and the “WiGig certified” logo has been published too. The Wi-Fi Alliance merged with the separate WiGig Alliance in January 2013, and is already running early stage plugfests.
The Alliance recently transferred the WiGig Serial Extension Specification to the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF), so anything currently connected by a wired USB connection will be able to link wirelessly via WiGig. The Alliance also has a liaison agreement with the Video Electronics Standards Assocation (VESA), enabling the groups to work jointly on WiGig-enabled display port solutions for connecting PCs and handhelds to monitors, projectors and HDTVs.
WiGig/802.11ad is at least a year behind the 802.11ac Wi-Fi technology – for the conventional 2.4-GHz/5-GHz spectrum - in terms of consumer gear, but saw its standard finalized in January. As a short-range, high speed technology mainly geared to in-home HD video and fast peripheral interconnect, WiGig is largely seen as a complementary platform to 11ac and so will be sup-ported by most of the same chip and equipment suppliers.
The merger with the Wi-Fi Alliance effectively ended rival bids to set a standard for 60-GHz networks, except in niche applications. Other specs, such as WirelessHD, which do not use Wi-Fi derivatives, were pushed into the shade.
The WiGig Alliance had been working increasingly closely with its Wi-Fi equivalent for two years before they converged, having overcome earlier clashes over potentially rival activities in 60-GHz Wi-Fi. WiGig is promising data rates of over 400Mbps in the first instance, then 1Gbps and, in future, a theoretical 7Gbps. Because of the short range of signals at this high frequency, the main applications are expected to be in PC-peripheral connectivity and in-home HD video networks. Elements of the proposed platform include WiGigDisplay Extensions, and WiGig Serial Extension, Bus Extension and SDIO Extension.
Some early silicon players such as Wilocity, a spin-out from major WiGig backer Intel, have already produced chips based on the draft standard, though most Wi-Fi equipment makers do not expect to offer mass market kit until at least 2014. At this year's Consumer Electronics Show, Wilocity demonstrated the first commercially available products incorporating the new standard, though of course these early devices will not have the opportunity to be certified. The firm talked up partnerships with Dell, Qualcomm and Marvell. The initial products include Dell's Latitude 6430u Ultrabook. The work with Marvell focuses on combining 60-GHz with existing Wi-Fi for applications like wireless docking and high speed synching, using the first WiGig wireless bus extension (WBE).
And Wilocity also announced an extension of its cooperation with Qualcomm Atheros, launching the industry‟s first tri-band reference design that combines Qualcomm's VIVE 802.11ac Wi-Fi with 802.11ad in a single module. Tri-band Wi-Fi allows consumers to connect to 60-GHz enabled products at 4Gbps-plus speeds, while maintaining enterprise or whole home coverage with 2.4-GHz/5-GHz Wi-Fi.
The Wi-Fi Alliance‟s CEO, Edgar Figueroa, said in a statement that WiGig had been an important element in the 802.11 roadmap for a couple of years. He said: "Combining the expertise of Wi-Fi Alliance and WiGig Alliance will deliver a terrific user experience with 60GHz solutions, and will help ensure that a full range of interoperable WiGig solutions reaches the market as quickly as possible.”