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The Exciting Potential of WiGig

Gordon Kelly



Wireless USB, Wireless HDMI, AirPlay, WiDi, WiHD. Chances are you have heard of some of these, chances are some are unfamiliar. The fact there are so many high speed wireless standards is a fundamental problem, but it is also symptomatic of the appeal in being the one to get this technology right. Now there is a new frontrunner to succeed where so many others are struggling…

It is called WiGig and on Tuesday the WiGig Alliance announced the publication of its certification-ready specification. In other words: the process for partners to build WiGig products and ensure they are fully interoperable with existing standards is nearly there. This is crucial for manufacturers so they can quickly and easily adapt new and existing products for WiGig.


"We're getting beyond the technology development, specification writing and industry alignment phase," explained WiGig Alliance Marketing Work Group Chair Mark Grodzinsky. "We are at the real product development, interoperability and deployment phase. Where WiGig is now more mature than Draft N wireless when it was certified [and products started to appear on shop shelves]."

More remarkable is WiGig has gotten to this stage in little more than two years (802.11n WiFi ratification took seven years) and at just version 1.1. In passing its latest IEEE vote it attained 93 per cent of the vote. Meanwhile the WiGig Alliance membership roster reads like a who's who of the technology sector. Intel, Dell, VESA, NEC, Nokia, Panasonic, Samsung, Toshiba, Nvidia, AMD, Texas Instruments, Atheros, Marvell, Realtek and Broadcom are just some of the companies attached. The Alliance itself was only formed in May 2009.

So what has gotten everyone so excited? In short: speed, flexibility and compatibility.


Speed. WiGig can operate at up to 7Gbit (7,000Mbit) per second. To put this into some perspective USB 3.0 operates at up to 5Gbit and Intel's all new Thunderbolt wired technology runs at up to 10Gbit. USB 2.0 runs at 480Mbit.

Flexibility. WiGig is a 60GHz wireless technology restricting its range to a room or two. The upsides, however, are huge: like wireless USB, WiGig can connect to USB peripherals such as printers and NAS drives, but also DisplayPort and HDMI for wireless media streaming. With WiGig to WiGig, ports could become a thing of the past. Furthermore WiGig is compatible with the PCI Express bus meaning it can seamlessly harness power (CPU, GPU and memory) from one PC to bolster another. Imagine taking a MacBook Air into the same room as an iMac and getting its performance boost. Better still offices can equip workers with simple, feather light laptops for use on the move which become power packing computational monsters when at their desks.

"It redraws the boundaries of the computer," argues Grodzinsky. "They are redrawn around the capabilities of multiple computers with an air gap between them. WiGig doesn't see that gap."

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