Qualcomm has announced its first tri-band Wi-Fi chipset that supports communications in the 60GHz band, promising multi-gigabit wireless capability for video streaming and other applications such as wireless docking.
The AR9004TB has been developed by Atheros, which Qualcomm acquired earlier this year, and start-up firm Wilocity.
It is based on new specifications for high-speed Wi-Fi from the Wireless Gigabit Alliance and IEEE 802.11ad working group, and should be capable of delivering over 10 times the data rate of current Wi-Fi.
However, the chip is only due to start sampling to hardware vendors this summer, which means that kit featuring the new standard is not likely to appear before next year.
According to Qualcomm, the AR9004TB is compatible with existing 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi bands, but adds support for seamless hand-off to the new 60GHz standard. This band is being promoted for applications that call for relatively short-range super-fast data transfers, at rates up to about 7Gbit/s.
Such applications are set to include synchronisation of high-definition movies in seconds rather than minutes, wireless connection to hard drives, synchronisation between mobile platforms, streaming video to projectors, TVs and monitors, plus wireless docking for laptops.
"AR9004TB will allow users to enjoy new generations of rich applications in the home and at work while also helping keep their devices and information fully synchronised," said Amir Faintuch, senior vice president of Qualcomm Atheros' consumer business unit.
Any products based on the new Wi-Fi hardware should be available in the UK, as regulator Ofcom declared the 59.1GHz to 63.9GHz portion of the wireless spectrum exempt from licensing restrictions last year.
The Wireless Gigabit Alliance is looking to promote interoperability around the new technology, in the same way that the Wi-Fi Alliance did with earlier wireless standards. Its members include Cisco, Broadcom, Intel, Microsoft, Samsung, Panasonic and AMD.
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