Qualcomm Atheros, Wilocity offer tri-band module with 802.11ad

Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) Atheros and Wilocity unveiled what they claim is the first tri-band reference design combining 802.11ac Wi-Fi and 802.11ad WiGig wireless capabilities on a single module.

The reference design includes Qualcomm Vive 802.11ac Wi-Fi technology, which provides up to a 1.3 Gbps physical layer (PHY) rate, and Wilocity 802.11ad WiGig technology, based on the newly ratified 802.11ad standard. "The reference design delivers tri-band Wi-Fi, which allows consumers to connect to 60GHz-enabled devices, docks, displays and storage at multi-gigabit speeds, while maintaining enterprise-wide or whole home coverage with 2.4GHz/5GHz Wi-Fi," said the companies.

The reference design ultimately targets consumer electronics manufacturers that want to integrate the combined technologies on platforms ranging from HDTVs and gaming consoles to notebooks. Initial applications for 802.11d are still focused on PC wireless docking, however.

"Docking is an obvious use case because you have the multi-gigabit speeds, which will allow you to do all of your interfaces in wireless dock without compromising performance," Mark Grodzinsky, Wilocity's vice president of marketing, told FierceBroadbandWireless. "But then when we get into tri-band networking, it's all about capacity."

In a shared-bandwidth environment, cell sizes must be kept small so users can get the highest performance per link, but 60 GHz beamforming deployed in an in-room environment can provide a wireless experience almost akin to switched Ethernet performance, said Grodzinsky.

"So everybody should be getting the maximum performance rather than everybody in the cell sharing the bandwidth. That's one of the really exciting things that 60 GHz brings to the table, and obviously that needs to be coupled with 802.11ac because you need to be connected everywhere. Even if you don't have a 60 GHz signal for whatever reason, the likelihood is that you absolutely will have a .11ac signal, and you'll be able to seamlessly hand off back and forth to ensure that you're always best connected," he said.

The new second-generation tri-band wireless networking card developed by Qualcomm and Wilocity combines two chips and will be available in a couple of options: the QCA9006 next-generation form factor (NGFF) and the QCA9006 half-mini card (HMC) specification. "We expect to have these sampling to key customers in the first half of 2013 and shipping in the second half of 2013," said Ken Steck, manager of computing for Qualcomm Atheros.

Qualcomm and Wilocity last year announced the QCA9005, a first-generation tri-band card combining 2x2 802.11n with 802.11ad, which Steck said will be shipping this year on a Dell platform. "There some other OEMs that will be shipping probably in the first half of 2013," he added.

Wilocity's Grodzinsky said 802.11ad also has a future in smartphones, but power consumption must first be driven way down. "That's just an implementation issue, which is being addressed by the industry," he said.

However, Grodzinsky cautioned that handset architectures also must be enhanced to handle multi-gigabit speeds. "If I gave you 2 Gbps in a phone today it would choke," he said.

Nonetheless, the debut of 802.11ad in smartphones may not be that far off. "I expect to see samples for a phone in our next-generation product, probably at the end of this year and getting into 2014, and then really seeing a ramp and a pickup in the second half of 2014 and into 2015," said Grodzinsky.

For more:
- see this Qualcomm Atheros release

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