Qualcomm today announced the first wireless chips that could replace all cables in your life. Unveiled as part of the “60 GHz Wi-Fi Portfolio”, these chips offer speeds in excess of 10 Gbps and negligible latencies. In other words, this is a Wi-Fi standard that could rival USB 3.1 for performance.
Part of the Wi-Fi 802.11 ay or WiGig spec, this new standard uses the 60 GHz band, which is way above the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz band that are used for regular Wi-Fi connectivity. The astute observers among you must have already noted that if 5 GHz struggles to penetrate walls, how badly will 60 GHz struggle? How badly? Let’s just say that it only works within line-of-sight.
The use of the 60 GHz band does mean that its applications in the real world will be limited to niche scenarios for now. Applications like wireless VR, untethered in-home streaming, mobile streaming and the like will certainly benefit from this tech. Even tasks such as transferring data to and from a computer or between devices will benefit from these features.
It’s not just speed that the chips are promising, however. Qualcomm says that the chips support Wi-Fi sensing, which means they could be used for room-mapping, facial recognition, gesture recognition and so on.
While these niche use-cases for WiGig are exciting, the latest WI-Fi standard being worked on is Wi-Fi 6, which will succeed 2014’s 802.11 ac standard. The new naming convention will make it easier for regular folk to figure out whether their devices are getting an older or newer standard. I doubt many of us would be able to explain why Wi-Fi 802.11a is faster than Wi-Fi 802.11b but slower than Wi-Fi 802.11g. Now, the standards will simply be renamed to Wi-FI 4, 5, 6 and so on.
Qualcomm's new 60 GHz Wi-Fi chips include the QCA6438 and QCA6428 for fixed wireless access and QCA6421 and QCA6431 for mobile applications.