As the first 5G Wi-Fi devices begin to break cover, the folks at the WiGig Alliance are already pushing the next step up the wireless performance ladder—WiGig, or 802.11ad. Two members of the Alliance, Wilocity and Marvell, announced yesterday that they’ve partnered up to deploy WiGig-enabled tri-band platforms for "computing, networking infrastructure and consumer electronics."
WiGig works on a 60GHz band and promises data rates as high as 7Gbps. That’s substantially faster than 5G Wi-Fi, which operates at 5GHz with a 1.3Gbps top speed. (5G Wi-Fi is also known as 802.11ac.) WiGig has a smaller range, however—just 30-60 feet or so. Fortunately, the standard allows solutions to fall back to 5GHz (802.11ac) or 2.4GHz (802.11n) seamlessly when the user moves out of range of the host device. Devices that support all three modes of connection are labeled "tri-band."
We spoke to Wilocity’s Mark Grodzinsky, who noted that Wilocity already partnered with Qualcomm Atheros on solutions for notebooks, including wireless docking stations, a couple of years back. The more recent Marvell partnership will involve some overlap with Qualcomm Atheros in the notebook space, but it will mainly focus on "infrastructure devices in consumer electronics." Grodzinsky explained, "Really, the goal of this partnership is to try to expand the ecosystem to get more silicon players into the game, and to try and hit more than just the PC space, but rather expand into tri-band infrastructure devices like access points, residential gateways, enabling kind of an always best connected experience."
According to Grodzinsky, the WiGig specifications are finished, the standard should have full IEEE ratification before the year is out, and the Wi-Fi alliance is working on a certification program. We should see the first WiGig-enabled products in the market by the end of this year.
Among the first products, Grodzinsky says, will be notebook and docking station bundles. Wilocity demonstrated several prototypes of such solutions at Computex in June, and they all look pretty impressive. Users should be able to connect multiple 1080p displays, storage devices, and peripherals to their notebook wirelessly through WiGig docking stations. We’re told latency will be in the order of "microseconds, not milliseconds," which should mean lag-free input and output with remotely connected displays and input peripherals.