The Wireless Gigabit Alliance has completed the protocol adaptation layer (PAL) specifications required for its next-generation wireless standard, moving a step closer to enabling PCs and other devices to stream video and communicate at speeds up to 7Gbit/s.
Wireless Gigabit, or WiGig, is intended as a short-range wireless standard that will support high-definition video, synchronisation and docking, as well as wireless networking. It is expected to complement rather than replace next-generation Wi-Fi standards such as 802.11ac.
The WiGig Alliance has now announced completion of the PAL specifications for these uses, with the publication of the WiGig Serial Extension and an update of the WiGig Display Extension to support HDMI and DisplayPort video over a WiGig connection.
The WiGig Serial Extension supports USB 3.0 over a WiGig connection, which means that peripherals can operate wirelessly, but should not require special drivers since they appear to be a standard USB device to the operating system.
These two protocols join the already published WiGig Bus Extension, which extends the PCI Express bus out over wireless, plus the completed Mac and physical layer specifications for WiGig, putting in place everything required for wireless docking.
"In order to have a comprehensive protocol that connects any device to any other device, which we call wireless docking, there have to be these protocols available," Ali Sadri, WiGig chairman and president, told V3.
However, there must also be a higher-level protocol to negotiate a connection, and the WiGig Alliance is now setting up the WiGig Docking Working Group to oversee this, Sadri said.
The target is for the upper level protocol for pairing to be complete by the end of next year, ready for certification of devices. Some pre-certified silicon and products could potentially come to market during 2012, he added.
Meanwhile, the first plugfest to test interoperability was conducted in October and declared a success, with early hardware shown to be able to communicate over the air, according to Sadri.
Unlike the 802.11ac wireless networking standard, which is being developed in parallel, WiGig is primarily intended for 'in-room' applications where devices are expected to be streaming video and data to each other from relatively close range.
"It will be optimistic to expect to see 802.11ac in mobile handheld devices because of the antenna configurations and the power consumption required," Sadri explained.
Nevertheless, he said he expected that many devices, especially laptops, will be dual-mode and capable of supporting both standards.
Daniel Robinson is technology editor at V3, and has been working as a technology journalist for over two decades. Dan has served on a number of publications including PC Direct and enterprise news publication IT Week. Areas of coverage include desktops, laptops, smartphones, enterprise mobility, storage, networks, servers, microprocessors, virtualisation and cloud computing.