Marvell is the latest to join WiGig chip race

This week's announcement from Marvell Semiconductor and Wilocity that they are collaborating on 60 GHz Wireless Gigabit (WiGig) chips means four companies are now involved in the race to ship chips compatible with the emerging 802.11ad standard within the next year.

Marvell and Wilocity said they have partnered to bring to market tri-band--2.4 GHz, 5 GHz and 60 GHz--Wi-Fi solutions enabled by the 802.11ad standard. "Marvell has chosen Wilocity, the leading developer of 60 GHz multi-gigabit wireless chipsets, to accelerate Marvell's deployment of WiGig-compliant wireless platforms for computing, networking infrastructure and consumer electronics," the companies said.

"60 GHz wireless is an exciting in-room multi-gigabit Wi-Fi technology that enhances end users' wireless experience and has the potential to eliminate more wires from consumers' homes," said Sameer Bidichandani, senior director of technology strategy at Marvell. "We look forward to collaborating with Wilocity to deliver cutting-edge WiGig products to the market that maintain compatibility with hundreds of millions of existing Wi-Fi devices."

In June 2011, Wilocity and Qualcomm's Atheros division made a similar announcement touting their partnership on what they called the industry's first tri-band Wi-Fi chipset that integrates the multi-gigabit performance of in-room 60 GHz band with seamless handoff to 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz band Wi-Fi. Atheros and Wilocity first announced their collaboration on tri-band chips in 2010, prior to Atheros' acquisition by Qualcomm.

According to EE Times, both Marvell and Qualcomm took stakes of less than 10 percent of Wilocity's equity as part of their partnerships.

Wilocity expects PC makers to announce notebooks and bundled docking stations with the Wi-Fi modules from Qualcomm before year's end, the article said, noting the Wilocity 60 GHz chips in the modules will enable a new feature: wireless docking. External hard drives and access points will likely be next in line for product development, given that Marvell is a strong player in both areas.

Two other companies, Beam Networks and Peraso Technologies, intend to announce their 60 GHz chips within the next six to nine months, making it a four-way race to offer 802.11ad products within the next year, said EE Times. Peraso's product will target mobile systems while Beam Networks is targeting a 60 GHz transceiver. Other startups working on WiGig products include Blu-Wireless Technology, Nitero and Tensorcom.

Wi-Fi at 60 GHz is attractive largely because the band has considerably more bandwidth available--7 to 9 GHz of spectrum--compared to only 83.5 MHz in the increasingly congested 2.4 GHz band. Having more spectrum enables higher data rates.

The WiGig specification defines protocols to support data transmission rates up to 7 Gbps--more than 10 times faster than the highest 802.11n rate. All products based on the WiGig specification will be capable of at least 1 Gbps data transfer rates, according to the WiGig Alliance, which notes built-in support for beamforming will also enable robust communications at a range beyond 10 meters.

A few months ago, the WiGig Alliance began pushing WiGig beyond its initial mission of providing multi-gigabit connections between devices and into the world of small cells as a short-range backhaul solution.

802.11ad, the IEEE standard supporting WiGig, is nearly finalized, with final approval from the standards board slated for December 2012.

For more:
- see this Wilocity release
- see this EE Times article

Related articles:
WiGig touted for small-cell backhaul play
Wilocity promises 802.11ad phones in 2013
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WiFi, WiGig move closer 60 GHz technology