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Summary:

Wilocity has dominated the still tiny WiGig chip market so far, but Nitero is bringing its first radio silicon to market, and it’s targeted directly at the smartphone.

Nitero WiGig hub demp
photo: Nitero

Austin wireless startup Nitero may have been later than the competition in bringing its first WiGig radio silicon to market, but it’s hoping the wait will be worth it to device makers. Nitero on Wednesday unveiled a low-power, small form factor WiGig chip targeted at smartphones and TVs designed to link the two together with gigabit-speed video streams.

You can think of WiGig as short range, extremely high-speed Wi-Fi — or alternately as turbo-charged Bluetooth – and it’s a competitor to Wireless HD. But WiGig is part of Wi-Fi’s evolutionary path based on the IEEE 802.11ad standard, and it’s designed to network more than just the TV. Essentially it uses larger swaths of extremely high-frequency 60 GHz waves to link devices within the same room at multi-gigabit speeds.

Nitero’s competitor Wilocity was an early pioneer of WiGig and managed to beat everyone to market with commercial products by more than a year, but so far those chips have only made it into PCs and peripheral devices such as desktop docking hubs. Nitero VP of marketing and standards Sven Mesecke claims that the biggest market for WiGig is in the smartphone and tablet, where a multi-gigabit connection can be used as to turn these devices into portable media and storage hubs capable of streaming 4K video to any display or instantly transferring gigantic media files.

WiGig

To meet the demands of smartphone manufacturers, WiGig vendors will need extremely low power chips that don’t take up much room. That’s exactly what Nitero has produced with its new NT4600 product, Mesecke said. It’s a 28-nanometer chip pressed at Samsung’s fabrication plants, and it consumes 10 times less power than the current Wilocity chips on the market.

Wilocity has unveiled its own low-power smartphone chipsets as well, and they will ship in the third quarter around the same time as Nitero’s NT4600. But Mesecke said Nitero still beats out Wilocity’s new Sparrow line in benchmark testing. In 4K video streaming tests, Nitero consumed 150 milliwatts (mWs) of power compared to more than 200 mWs for Sparrow, and when both chips were pushed to their 4.6 Gbps peak speeds, Nitero consumed 450 mWs compared to Wilocity’s 750 mWs, Mesecke said.

Since those numbers are coming from Nitero, they have to be taken with a grain of salt. But if Nitero does supply a more power-efficient solution it could have an advantage among device makers looking to optimize battery life — at least while WiGig remains a separate radio in the device.

Integrated radios consume far less power than their stand-alone counterparts. Qualcomm recently bought Wilocity, announcing plans to integrate its technology into the Atheros Wi-Fi product line and eventually into Snapdragon mobile processors. Another big WiGig backer Intel will do the same with its own Wi-Fi and mobile silicon.