Room to roam
Getting a signal through impermeable walls is another matter. Handy, then, that Wi-Fi is part of the scheme, since it provides a fall-back network when a connected device moves out of line-of-sight of the base-station.
Unconcerned by distance considerations, VESA, the organisation behind the DisplayPort digital monitor connectivity standard selected WiGig as the basis for a wireless version of the computer-to-screen system, which the WGA duly announced, in November 2010, as WiGig AV.
Since then, the WGA has published WiGig 1.1 and extended the specification to allow it to operate as a transport for PCI Express and USB traffic, as the WiGig Bus Extension (WBE) and the WiGig Serial Extension (WSE), respectively. WiGig AV became WiGig Display Extension (WDE), adding HDMI support in the processes.
Look, ma: no USB, HDMI or DisplayPort cables
It sounds like the ideal wireless data technology. Support for high-speed networking combined with built-in compatibility with the existing de facto standard – which also handily allows it cope with its limitations – and it's able to operate as a wireless carrier for a variety of cable protocols.
It's WiGig's Protocol Adaption Layers (PALs) that allow it to operate as a wireless replacement for a variety of wires, from USB to DisplayPort and HDMI. Since it'll carry PCIe traffic too, it could even form the basis for wireless Thunderbolt. Range is not an issue here and neither is bandwidth. WiGig supports device-to-device connections, so there's no need to router cable-replacement traffic through a base-station.
So why, two years on from the releases of WiGig 1.0 don't we have it yet? Ali Sadri, an Intel boffin who happens to be the WGA's Chairman and President, admits the development of the hardware that will deliver the standard is "absolutely taking longer than it was originally thought".
Getting an entirely new radio system to work is not easy - and that's before engineers then have to make sure it adheres to the formal specification and works with devices from other vendors. Much of the plugfest activity in the past year or so has centred on that kind of testing.
"This is all-new technology," says Sadri, "not an incremental update to an existing standard. Every piece of the specification needs testing. We've had to proceed slowly, step by step. WiGig chipsets are not simple; we couldn't have shipped them this year or last year."
The technology sports a new MAC, he says, designed to be "more TDMA-like" (Time Division Multiple Access) than Wi-Fi has been, a trick learned from the cellular and WiMax worlds, and with quality-of-service and low-power operation at the heart of it.
Next page: Ultra wireless for Ultrabooks?
Why do I get the feeling the tinfoil headgear brigade are gonna have a(nother) feeding frenzy? Tumors... Mind control... Zombie apocalypse?
Personally, and you can call me old fashioned if you wish, I *like* cables, big fat masonry drills and knowing a mate with his or her laptop can just sit down, plug in and be sorted in mere seconds. Wireless certainly has its place, and WiGig will be a very handy tech to have in the networking arsenal, but I do not see it as preferable as far as my home is concerned.
/me braces for a volley of "-1 Luddite".
...so maybe the ideal home roaming setup will be to have a "base station" in each room where the light fitting would be in the centre of the ceiling and to network these base stations together with wired gigabit (or faster). This would allow very high speed links for devices roaming between rooms and the placement of the base station outside of the general clutter should be good for links - as in when there's no direct link because of a sack of water in the way, it can still bounce off a wall.
Those annoying sync cables?
You mean the ones that provide power to the other device?
Let the radio slurping begin