March 15, 2007
DisplayLink demos wireless display connection; Wireless USB heads to digital cameras; WiQuest drivers get WHQL cert; and more.
At CeBIT in Germany this week, DisplayLink plans to publicly show off its wireless connection between a computer and monitor. It requires a Windows computer to be running Virtual Graphics Card (VGC) software, and the DisplayLink chip with its Hardware Rendering Engine to be on the display end. Then it's just a matter of connecting the two, either by a USB 2.0 cable, by Wireless USB, or even by Wi-Fi. The first display to use the technology is Samsung's 19-inch 940UX display -- it doesn't even have a VGA or DVI port, just USB. In fact, it has a four-port USB hub built in, so you can add more monitors. No word on who, if any, vendors plan on using DisplayLink chips with Wireless USB.
March 9, 2007
The PMA 2007 show had some ultrawideband providers visiting this week. Chipmaker Alereon says it's teaming with manufacturers to build Wireless USB solutions into digital cameras. Artimi is there saying the same, letting visitors take high-res photos and sending them using Wireless USB to a photo printer as a demo. They say digital cameras with embedded Wireless USB should be out in the first half of 2008.
WiQuest Communications says the drivers for its ultrawideband chip/software combo are the first supporting Certified Wireless USB to earn the Microsoft's Windows Hardware Quality Lab (WHQL) certification. This covers use in both Windows XP and Vista operating systems, and in both 32- and 64-bit incarnations on single and dual-core systems. WiQuest also has FCC approval for inclusion of its chips in a future Toshiba notebook. The chips (WQST100) have WiMedia PHY registration -- Wireless USB is based on UWB technology as defined by the WiMedia Alliance.
LucidPort Technologies' L800 is a Certified Wireless USB controller design supporting both wired and wireless USB connections, both using the same API (Application Programming Interface). The reference design from the fabless chip maker will be available in April.
February 9, 2007
Semiconductor designer Artimi will be showing off Bluetooth over Ultrawideband this month at the 3GSM World Congress in Spain. Visitors to the Artimi booth can provide their own images from camera phones for Artimi to show transferring from laptop to laptop with the enhanced UWB-for-Bluetooth speeds, which are expected to hit 480 Mbps. The WiMedia Alliance standard for UWB is the Bluetooth Special Interest Group's choice for the next generation of the technology. It's also used for Certified Wireless USB, which Artimi will also be demoing using a Wireless USB camera. Artimi's A-150 WiMedia-based UWB MAC is available now for testing.
Also at 3GSM, chipmaker Wisair plans to show off a Nokia N series camera phone utilizing Wireless USB from the Wisair 542 chip. Wisair will be part of the WiMedia Alliance's area at the show.
January 11, 2007
Wireless USB based on Wi-Fi, not ultrawideband? Why not. Icron Technologies says its WiRanger Cable Free USB 2.0 is the first wireless USB 2.0 hub based on 802.11g. It will have four ports and dongles to connect to legacy USB ports on printers, cameras, hard drives, etc. It should be available in the spring. Note that it's not Certified Wireless USB, as the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) says that has to come from vendors supporting UWB tech from a WiMedia Alliance company. But Icron says 802.11g gives better range (30 meters) as well as an upgrade path to using 11n for the same purpose.
Alereon says that Intel's Host Wire Adapter (HWA) Reference Design using an Alereon AL4000 WiMedia PHY and an Intel MAC, and made by Gemtek has passed muster with the FCC. This dongle is made for OEM/ODM companies looking for a fast way to market with wUSB, and is available now. Alereon is also working with software company Stonestreet One to make embedded wUSB to go in devices supporting Microsoft Windows Mobile/Windows CE. That means coupling the AL4000 with Alereon's AL4300 MAC/baseband and Stonestreet One's UltraSuite software and drivers on units supporting compact flash and DSIO interfaces.
Staccato Communications says its new Wafer Chip Scale Package (WCSP) based on Staccatos Ripcord chip is the smallest Certified wUSB around, measuring only 7.5 mm square. It should be sampling with customers later in the first quarter of '07.
Y-E Data of Japan will use Wisair UWB/Wireless USB chips to bring a new wUSB hub and PCI Express mini card for laptops to market. Y-E had the first hub on the market last year in Japan, also using Wisair chips.
Artimi says it has created a format for a module to be integrated in digital still cameras, giving them instant wUSB connections no dongle necessary without camera makers or designers needing to re-architect the insides. They showed it this week at CES in the WiMedia TechZone booth, but haven't announced any customers yet. They estimate it can handle a download of 1 GB of photos in about 30 seconds.
Not to be outdone by DisplayLink, WiQuest used CES to show a new Wireless Docking Station that would bring not only wUSB connections but also wireless video transmission. They call it WiDV, or Wireless Digital Video. They say a laptop with WiDV embedded (via PCI Express mini card) that comes within range of a WiDV docking station will get instant access to all peripherals, including the monitor. The dock has four USB ports, one wUSB association "port," Ethernet and standard audio.
January 3, 2007
Gefen, which wanted to release Wireless USB products last year but got delayed when its chip supplier (Freescale) pulled out of the UWB biz, now plans to show such products at CES next week. The Wireless USB Extender will have four ports, and will connect to peripherals with a Wireless USB dongle. The Extender should start selling this month for $249 (but Belkin said the same thing about its Wireless USB hub for December, which is also now pushed back to this month as well). Gefen is now using chips from Wisair, just like Belkin. Later this year, Gefen intends to sell wireless video cables for VGA, component and HDMI connections, probably using tech from other chipmakers like Tzero Technologies. No more cables from the DVD player to the TV? Sounds good -- though the HDMI extender, for example, will cost about $500.
Wisair continues to win customers for its UWB/Certified USB chips. MiTAC International will use the Wisair542 chipset to create a Wireless USB hub with dual antennas and a PCI Express Mini card dongle to be shown at CES next week. Wisair itself is shipping new reference designs for the hub and PCIe Mini card to other customers.
Before Xmas, Siemens Home and Office Communication Devices and Kiyon said they're jointly developing UWB mesh solutions for home networking of everything from video to audio to games. Kiyon makes multi-hop mesh routing software (Multi-channel TDMA) to embed in wireless products (such as existing 802.11a/b/g access points) -- now it will go in Siemens UWB hardware.
December 15, 2006
Ultrawideband (UWB) technology is now a-okay in Europe. InfoWorld says the European Commission's Radio Spectrum Committee passed a "positive regulatory opinion" on the technology with a 70% majority. That means it's on the way to becoming law in the EU. Any restrictions will be published soon (the recommendation is to stay within 3.4-5 and 6-8.5 Gigahertz (GHz)); they're likely to be in keeping with restrictions elsewhere in the world to keep UWB "globally harmonized."
Since 2005, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has given approval to the WiMedia Alliance to sell products in the US, but only through a waiver of various FCC rules. However, Focus Enhancements now says it is the first company with WiMedia-based ultrawideband (UWB) technology to get approval form the FCC without the waver. Its DS-OFDM radios will be able to use any bit of spectrum from 3.1-10.6GHz in the US; the company says this will increase data rate and distance. Focus makes the Talaria UWB technology. Restrictions in the UK mean it can run between 6-10GHz; in Japan between 7-10GHz.
Parks Associates predicts in a new report that the market for wireless multimedia LAN technology (including both UWB and Wi-Fi) will hit 51.9 million units in four years, by the end of 2010. This year it was only 2.5 million.
December 4, 2006
About time: Belkin finally said its Cable-Free Hub using Wisairs ultrawideband chip to provide a Certified Wireless USB connection will be shipping in mid-December. Look for the 4-port hub to sell for around $200 at retail. Speed claims? 480Mbps from 30 feet away.
November 30, 2006
The WiMedia Certification Program is final. The WiMedia Alliance announced today that member companies can now go forth with the two part testing. First they have to test (or register) the physical layer (PHY), then it goes to Platform Certification of the MAC layer. Over the last year WiMedia held five PHY interoperability test events and several companies -- Alereon, Realtek Semiconductor, Staccato Communications, Tzero Technologies, WiQuest Communications and Wisair made it through successful completion of the registration of PHY in their chips. WiMedia says with all of these registered components, testing is well underway on products supported by the WiMedia platform, including Certified Wireless USB equipment.
October 24, 2006
WiQuest Communications has silicon (the WQST110 and WQST101 chipsets) powering the first Ultrawideband (UWB)-powered wireless USB adapter design to be approved by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) it conforms to FCC Part 15 Section 15.519 for hand held UWB systems running in the 3.1 to 4.8 Gigahertz (GHz) frequencies. Company CEO and president Matthew Shoemake says in a statement released October 23, 2006, that "WiQuest products are now shipping and are fully-compliant with FCC regulations." This also should make it a no-brainer for WiQuest customers that they'll get FCC approval using the reference design. WiQuest also has a designs for a PCI Express mini-card and a 4-port Wireless USB hub.
October 16, 2006
Earlier this month, Sigma Designs formed a Wireless Products Division focusing on use of UWB for streaming HD video and audio on consumer electronics (formed from the ashes of Blue7 Communications, which Sigma bought). They'll integrate the WiMedia standard MAC and PHY technology into their Windeo RF IC (B7CW101) and the Windeo Baseband IC (B7CW201) and planned to show these first all-CMOS UWB chips at the Combined Exhibition of Advanced Technologies (CEATEC) show in Japan.
Finally, another wireless USB hub announced: Japan's Y-E Data plans to make one using chips and a reference design from Wisair, and start shipping it this month with customers getting the product in November. It'll have four ports for wireline USB products like printers and scanners to plug into, which talks to a PC using a wireless USB dongle plugged into the local USB port.
September 26, 2006
Belkin, which wanted to launch wireless USB products by now but got the shaft from chip partner Freescale when that company pulled out of the ultrawideband world, has picked a new partner. The upcoming Belkin 4-Port Hub and Adapter for wireless USB will use chips from WiQuest Communications. And because of the wait, the products will be Certified Wireless USB (with Freescale, they wouldn't have been "certified" by the USB Implementers Forum). WiQuest also said it will offer reference designs for a wireless USB PCIe half mini and full mini card.
Japan's Omron Corp. says it is releasing the first polymer antenna for UWB that supports MIMO (multiple in, multiple out) technology, specifically for Tzero's UltraMIMO UWB. The company says this is the first of its Wireless Polymeric Advanced Devices or Wi-PlaD branded devices to come for UWB.
September 12, 2006
WiMedia Alliance said today that last week eight member companies Focus Enhancements, Intel, NEC Electronics, Realtek Semiconductor, Staccato Communications, Tzero Technologies, WiQuest Communications, and Wisair completed the latest interoperability testing of WiMedia Common Radio Platform capabilities. The test was done at facilities in Santa Clara, California, run by LeCroy and check for over-the-air interoperability in the same channel of each company's radios, as tested by LeCroy analyzers. WiMedia Alliance things products using this ultrawideband platform could be in the consumer market by the end of this year. The next step? Become WiMedia Certified to ensure co-existence of WiMedia radios will work even with different uses such as Certified Wireless USB or Bluetooth 3.0 or Wireless 1394. The alliance also issued a Compliance and Interoperability Policy (CIP) to all members to define what is needed for commercial use of the technology for products to pass inspection.
Remember when Freescale Semiconductor was going to single-handedly take on the WiMedia Alliance in the UWB war (after it and former parent Motorola pretty much screwed up UWB becoming an IEEE standard)? Yeah, well, the company recently bailed on UWB and now has hit hard enough luck that it's going to be sold for $16
million billion [much more impressive with a B] to investment firms, according to the New York Times. The company has only said so far that it is in discussions for such a sale.
August 23, 2006
The WiMedia Alliance completed its fourth PHY interoperability test event recently at the Intel UWB Integration Lab last week in Hillsboro, Oregon (the first was back in January). The goal is to set test specifications for Wi-Media's common radio platform that will ensure that all WiMedia-flavored ultrawideband used in Certified Wireless USB products will work together and the products will make it to store shelves this year. Six chip makers participated: Alereon, Realtek, Staccato Communications, Tzero, WiQuest, and Wisair
August 2, 2006
Wisair already has a new WiMedia-based UWB chip ready. The 542 chip for Certified wireless USB supports multiple modes, such as a Device Wire Adapter (DWA), Host Wire Adapter (HWA), Native Device and Dual Role Device (DRD). It works with the Wisair 502 RF chip, it supports interfaces such as USB, SDIO and Local Bus Interface.
Pulse~LINK says it has independent test results back from tester Quantum Parametrics on its CWave UWB over Coax and of course, the performance is "unequaled." They sustained 400 Megabits per second speed over hundreds of feet, even over consumer-grade signal splitters, which is more than enough for HDTV signals in the home.
Focus Enhancements shipped its UWB evaluation system, which includes a PCI card with both digital and analog chips conforming to the WiMedia MB-OFDM ultrawideband spec.
ABI Research says that there will be plenty of room on the market for both Wireless USB and ultrawideband (UWB)-based Bluetooth, even though both are essentially will be powered by the same technology. They say both USB and Bluetooth are a key to capturing the mass market in PC peripherals and cellular headsets, respectively. Of course, wireless USB is here and high-speed Bluetooth is months if not years away. There's billions of USB ports, but only millions of Bluetooth phones, so ABI says "clearly...things are in balance." Their study profiles major UWB players in the market.
WiQuest said last week that it shipped the smallest Certified Wireless USB devices available, with ultrawideband on a 3.0 cm x 2.68 cm half mini PCIe reference design. Speeds are 53 Mbps to 480 Mbps using WiQuest's WQST110/101 UWB chipset and software suite.
Staccato Communications is working with Cypress Semiconductor on a couple of Certified Wireless USB reference designs. They include a 4-port Wireless USB hub and a Wireless USB mass storage bridge. Both use the Staccato Ripcord SC3502P Wireless USB Device Wire Adapter, coupled with Cypress's TetraHub controller and mass storage controllers, respectively. Staccato is also working with SMSC on more Wireless USB Hubs, a 4-port and 7-port version; again using the Ripcord SC3502P.
June 29, 2006
LeCroy today announced its MB-OFDM Ultra-Wideband (UWB) compliance software for checking WiMedia radios. It will be built into the WaveMaster and Serial Data Analyzer products that test Wireless USB.
June 16, 2006
Ellisys's UWB Generator 320 is a byte-level frame generator for transmitting frames over-the-air on WiMedia-based Ultrawideband and Certified Wireless USB connections for testing with " reproducible traffic, timing and error scenarios." It integrates with Ellisys protocol analysis software. They say WiMedia Alliance "endorses traffic generation as a test methodology."
June 15, 2006
Tzero Technologies says its TZ 7000 chipset using ultrawideband (UWB) is the only one that has the link reliability required by the major TV makers (Panasonic, Philips, Samsung, Sharp and Sony) for delivering high-quality wireless video. They claim 99% link reliability, compared to 90% for Wi-Fi, with a data rate of 106Mbps even at 15 to 30 meters distance. When it goes into production in July, the chip will be available in a reference design (it sits on a miniPCI card). It supports the WiMedia Alliance version of UWB.
Catalyst's upcoming AirCom Series UWB Analyst is a "Wireless USB/Ultrawideband protocol analyzer/exerciser development solution based on Certified Wireless USB" according to the company. It will help developers to work out the bugs before shipping a product. Catalyst makes similar products for testing technologies like PCI Express and USB 2.0. It should be out by July and will include a traffic generating feature to help put a Wireless USB product through its paces.
June 05, 2006
Iogear has announced a Ultrawideband Hub & Adapter kit that will be out in the third quarter. The hub will have four USB 2.0 ports on where you can plug in peripherals, then put the adapter on the PC or Laptop to get a Wireless USB connection. It will use WiMedia-flavored MB-OFDM UWB (though they don't say who's chip). They also don't know yet how much it will cost.
UWB using Wireless USB hubs are going to soon be commonplace. Wisair is already releasing a second generation design for one using its own chips. The Hubs will still have four physical USB ports, but come in at a smaller size (38 x 93 millimeters) and even support a shorter dongle adapter for plugging into the PC. The new design has dual-antennas, rate adaptation and radio channel changes on the fly, and LEDs to indicate power, signal association and data transfer activity.
June 2, 2006
Fabless semiconductor company Staccato Communications has signed on a slew of Taiwanese customers. Asian Information Technology (AIT) is making test equipment using the Staccato Ripcord single-chip for ultrawideband. This puts AIT into the world of testing PCs and peripherals, a new area for them, as the Bluetooth tester with a huge Asian customer base moves into Certified Wireless USB. AboCom, Cameo Communications and Cellink will all use Ripcord chips in PC Dongle and hub products for Wireless USB; AboCom also plans an ExpressCard.
May 18, 2006
Frost and Sullivan is expecting good things for ultrawideband technology, with sales of $950 million dollars in just chipsets (not even finished products) in three years, by 2009. (ZigBee, the low-cost home control wireless mesh tech, is also expected to do well with $800 million in chips by then, up from $11.3 million in 2005).
CSR says it has joined the WiMedia Alliance Advisory Board, where the company's technical marketing manager for North American will sit in on board of directors meetings. CSR is a big name in Bluetooth, and the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) recently picked WiMedia MB-OFDM technology to run future Bluetooth applications. CSR calls the combo Ultra Wide Bluetooth. CSR also recently demonstrated a board running UWB, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth separately but simultaneously to prove they could coexist, at London's Wireless Event.
May 5, 2006
This past week at the CONNECTIONS Conference, Pulse~LINK showed off its CWave chipset for use in HDTV and other high-speed wireless home hookups. The chip can supposedly run at data rates of up to a Gigabit, and supports connections beyond wireless, such as coax and even powerline. CWave PL3100 set includes three chips: the PL3130 Baseband & 802.15.3 MAC , the PL3120 RFIC front end for transmit and recieve, and the otional PL3110 UWB LNA low-noise UWB amplifier.
In-Stat says that by 2010, the shipment of USB-enabled products will double to about 2.8 billion. That includes Wireless USB in all its forms (Direct Sequence (DS) and the WiMedia Alliance versions) based on ultrawideband technology.
March 22, 2006
WiMedia-based ultrawideband chip maker Wisair says it's chips are being used by Ellisys and LeCroy in new UWB protocol analyzers for use in checking Certified Wireless USB products (the Ellisys deal is reciprocal, letting Wisair use their analyzer to check things long before release). The LeCroy UWBTracer protocol analyzer shipping this month will actually use several radios (including Alereon's 480Mbps AL4000 radio platform) on swappable modules for easy upgrades in the future.
Earlier this month WiQuest announced a new WiMedia-based UWB reference design the company's third for use in making Certified Wireless USB products. It includes a PCI Express mini card using the WiQuest's WQST110/101 ultrawideband chipset, and can be used in designing any Device Wire Adapter (DWA) or Host Wire Adapter (HWA). They say to look for it in products from PC manufacturers sometime this year. The kit includes a Windows utility for making sure the Microsoft OS can find and use the Wireless USB products.
March 2, 2006
At the PMA Conference last weekend in Orland, some companies took the wraps off of a digital camera accessory that uses Ultrawideband-based Wireless USB to transfer images. Each company brought some technology to the table: Slyde Technologies with its DropIntegration architecture, FotoNation's Picture Transfer Protocol (PTP) technology, and Wisair with a UWB chipset, making a module for use in cameras that talks to any PC with a Wireless USB dongle, at speed of 480Mbps. They showed the module with cameras from Casio and others. Wisair will have it on display again next week at the Spring Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco.
Speaking of wireless USB (the non-certified kind) the first promised product in this area was the Belkin CableFree USB Hub and Dongle set, show in January at CES. Belkin now says the high-speed wireless replacement won't ship for consumer purchase until July of this year. It will sell for $130.
February 24, 2006
U.K.-based Chipmaker CSR is getting into the ultrawideband (UWB) space and says it will back the WiMedia Alliance flavor of the technology. Specifically, the company will be integrating USB into its Bluetooth architecture so future handheld devices using Bluetooth can get the USB speed increase. Its also a quick way for WiMedia-based USB to get to market since CSR BlueCore chips are in so many products.
You can order it now, but in March LeCroy Corporation will begin shipping a system for analyzing WiMedia UWB radio platforms doing Certified Wireless USB, called UWBTracer. Its for engineers and designers looking to see whats going on in the air with Wireless USB traffic. LeCroy has previous experience with analyzers for USB and Bluetooth; it had a previous WiMedia analyzer out in May of last year.
February 10, 2006
The WiMedia Alliance said this week that it has finished its first formal interoperability workshop on January 25 at the Intel UWB Integration Lab in Hillsboro. Products from Alereon, Staccato Communications, Realtek Semiconductor, WiQuest Communications and Wisair were all shown to work together in harmony using the WiMedia UWB common radio platform at the physical (PHY) layer. This doesnt mean anything gets a seal of approval yet, as further testing at the MAC and application layer will come soon. WiMedia-based products wont be around until later this year.
NEC says it is using WiMedia-flavored ultrawideband in making signal creation and processing technology that runs in the 3 to 9 GHz radio frequency range.
January 6, 2006
It seems Ultrawideband is everywhere at CES 2006:
Focus Enhancements is showing its TALARIA UWB tech in the WiMedia TechZone Booth, which is expected to deliver speeds of 880 Megabits per second (Mbps) from as far away as eight meters, dropping to only 37Mbps at 40 meters, while staying compatible to the published WiMedia UWB specification.
TZero Technologies is previewing a UWB chip called Jackrabbit, designed for wireless streaming of high-definition video on home networks. It uses dual antennas and patent-pending technology to get better range and less interference. The all-CMOS chip, which includes both the MAC and PHY, is compliant with the WiMedia UWB spec and should be sampling with customers by the second quarter of 2006.
silex technology america (a company that doesn't like capital letters) launched its own wireless video chips, the SX-EVK20UA UWB Wireless XGA Solution. Transmitter and receiver both use UWB and JPEG2000 encoding/decoding to get better video quality than standard MPEG compression can deliver. Silex is a member of the WiMedia Alliance.
Wisair and Intellon have teamed up to showcase UWB working with HomePlug (1.0 with Turbo) Powerline networking at the show. Both chipmakers have a demo with powerline as the home network backbone to transmit high-definition video from a media server, going to a Wisair HomePlug bridge (using an Intellon chip, natch), to get content to a laptop using a Wisair Wireless USB adapter. Intellon's faster HomePlug AV chips that move data at 200Mbps should come out this year.
WiMedia-based reference designs for Certified Wireless USB products continue to come out. WiQuest Communications is making their DWA 4-port Hub, as well as the embedded design for the HWA Dongle, available in reference design kits this week that include hardware and software for OEMs.
Here's a company that's playing both sides (though I'm sure they're not alone): iAnywhere has joined both ultrawideband groups, the WiMedia Alliance and the UWB Forum. This subsidiary of Sybase plans to influence both bodies in its work with Bluetooth software, as iAnywhere plans to support UWB in mobile device solutions for OEMs and chip makers. iAnywhere also contributes to the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG). The company plans to demonstrate UWB and Bluetooth integration at CES, showing video transfer between two PCs.
And not at CES, but just as important: the WiMedia Alliance said yesterday that it will hold its "premiere interoperability testing event" January 23. Members of the Alliance who participate can "contribute to the construction and refinement of the test process that will ultimately be used for the official WiMedia Alliance Certification Program," according to an Alliance statement. Formal device certification won't begin until the second half of 2006.