Electronic Design
60-GHz Millimeter-Wave WLAN And WPAN Activity Heats Up

60-GHz Millimeter-Wave WLAN And WPAN Activity Heats Up

The unlicensed 60-GHz band has been the target of activity for years, first by the microwave backhaul guys and more recently from a few brave companies that have developed 60-GHz chips for uncompressed video distribution in the home. Good progress is being made on several fronts in both the wireless local-area network (WLAN) and wireless personal-area network (WPAN) space.

The Wi-Fi Alliance and the Wireless Gigabit Alliance (WiGig Alliance) recently announced a cooperation agreement for multi-gigabit wireless networking. The groups will share technology specifications for the development of a next-generation Wi-Fi Alliance certification program supporting Wi-Fi operation in the 60-GHz frequency band. This agreement further encourages the development of products supporting 60-GHz technology to expand existing Wi-Fi capabilities.

Device connectivity in the 60-GHz band will complement the current family of Wi-Fi technologies. Targeted primarily for applications that require gigabit speeds, 60-GHz products will be used in a wide range of high-performance devices. Most if not all of these devices are expected to also support traditional Wi-Fi networking in the 2.4- and 5-GHz bands.

To support this new initiative, Wilocity and Atheros Communications will collaborate to build tri-band wireless solutions that combine the ubiquity and coverage of Wi-Fi with the multi-gigabit performance of the WiGig Alliance’s 60-GHz technology. Such “tri-band” capabilities will enhance the performance and functionality of wireless devices to enable a variety of new computing and entertainment applications.

Many devices and networks use dual-band 802.11n, which operate in the 2.4-GHz and 5-GHz bands, to share broadband connections, videos, music, photos, and other content throughout a home or enterprise. Advanced 60-GHz technologies offer multi-gigabit speeds to complement existing Wi-Fi capabilities and enable new cutting-edge wireless applications. Tri-band devices that leverage all three bands will also maintain compatibility with the hundreds of millions of Wi-Fi products in use today, ensuring a seamless and simple user experience.

Atheros and Wilocity are jointly developing tri-band solutions based on both the IEEE 802.11n standard and the new WiGig multi-gigabit wireless specification. By integrating and optimizing Wi-Fi and WiGig solutions, the companies aim to accelerate the design of tri-band wireless products and enable the next-generation wireless ecosystem. Look for samples about the second quarter of next year.

The resulting new product will meet the WiGig Alliance specifications that have resulted in the IEEE 802.11ad standard, which supports a data rate to 7 Gbits/s. It also supplements and extends the 802.11 media access controller (MAC) layer and is backward compatible with the 802.11 standard. In addition, it permits the beamforming that’s needed to extend the range beyond about 10 meters.

As part of the 802.15.3 IEEE standard, Task Group (TGc), another 60-GHz standard known as WirelessHD targets WPAN applications. It’s based on the WirelessHD Consortium’s 1.1 specifications that call for data rates in excess of 1 Gbit/s. It also supports HDCP 2.0 content protection. Future versions of the standard will support data rates in the 10- to 28-Gbit/s range. New devices will focus on compressed HDTV and advanced A/V streaming including 3D.

SiBEAM’s SB8110 RF transceiver and companion SK8100 development kit support the WirelessHD and WiGig standards. These chips are already showing up in consumer products. Asus, AzureWave, Abocom, Gemtek, Shuttle PC, and Vizio are among the companies adopting 60-GHz wireless, which is real and ready for inclusion in the next generation of both WPAN and WLAN products.

Atheros Communicaitons Inc.


Wi-Fi Alliance

WiGig Alliance


WirelessHD Consortium

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