Every now and again, the rules for how to build a personal computer change. One of those moments may arrive next year with a high-speed wireless technology that could let people link tablets with big-screen TVs or dock laptops when arriving in the office.
The technology, which uses the 60GHz band of radio spectrum and is designed to transfer as much as 7 gigabits of data per second, matches what many wired connections provide, either inside a computer chassis or through the profusion of ports that perforate laptop sides. A group called the WiGig Alliance is developing it, and the group announced today new specifications that could help replace the current tangle of cables.
"I fully expect to see the product ramp to start midyear next year," said Mark Grodzinsky, chairman of the WiGig Alliance's marketing group. "In 2013 you end up with an explosion of products."
The basic data-transfer rules for the 60GHz technology, developed in concert with the IEEE's 802.11ad standard, were published in May. Today, the WiGig Alliance tweaked that with version 1.1, but more importantly announced three higher-level specs that use that foundation:
- The WiGig Bus Extension (WBE), which can enable a wireless version of the PCI Express (PCIe) slots used to connect everything from video cards to hard drives. WBE is now a published specification available to members of the consortium.
- The Wireless Serial Extension (WSE) will provide high-speed serial communications link, enabling a wireless version of the newer USB 3.0 technology. This spec will be published in the second half of 2011.
- The Wireless Display Extension (WDE) governs how external monitors or TVs can be connected with wireless versions of HDMI and DisplayPort connectors. WiGig had been working with VESA, which develops DisplayPort, but now joined HDMI's group, too. WDE also will be published in the second half of 2011.
As an added bonus, the technology also is an extension of traditional Wi-Fi networking, including elements such as Wi-Fi Direct for device-to-device connections. That Wi-Fi ability is handy, but not so paradigm-shiftingly different as blowing apart a PC chassis--especially given that next year also likely will bring the debut of longer-range 802.11ac wireless with a data transfer rate of 1Gbps.
Today's Wi-Fi technology uses 2.4GHz and 5GHz radio spectrum; the 60GHz band permits faster data transfer but is limited to shorter range. The 60GHz band, like the other two, is unlicensed. That means device makers don't need to take out a government license for their devices the way, say, Verizon must to support phones using 4G LTE newtorks.