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Startup debuts 60GHz WiFi chip for mobile displays

28 Jul 2014  | Jessica Lipsky

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Nitero, a startup company, has recently unleashed its first 60GHz WiFi silicon, which comes at the close of Qualcomm's acquisition of 60GHz chipset maker Wilocity. The NT4600 28nm chip supports 802.11ad with an initial focus on mobile displays.

"Where we see excitement in the customer base is in providing for the missing link in PC gaming and media console conversions into the phone. What we really need... is that wired display performance, wired USB performance over a wireless link," Nitero CEO Pat Kelly stated. "Until 60GHz, this hasn't existed. 60GHz has the promise, but the problem has been solving the power problem without giving up performance."

When displaying 4K video, Kelly said Nitero's chip outperforms the Wilocity's forthcoming Sparrow chip by 50-100mW and beats its peak energy consumption by 300mW. The two chipsets offer the same throughput at 4.6Gb/s.

"Wilocity has done a phenomenal job of leading the market, but its mobile chipset is a slimmed-down PC architecture," he said, adding that Nitero's chip is 60mm2 traditional mobile architecture. "We can really put everything onto a single module and make it a lot smaller."

Nitero aims to decrease video latency and improve connection up to 10m without line-of-sight. The company sees 60GHz as a very low power equivalent to .11ac WiFi and hopes that its module will be incorporated into future devices. Due to the cost of handset integration, the initial Nitero device will be a standalone module for mobile then, eventually, integrated into .11ac modules and processors.

"We're big believers in not reinventing the wheel. There are a lot of good companies out there with .11ac solutions that would fall all over themselves to pair an .ad solution with .ac," Kelly added. "Initially .ad is going to be a SKU or couple of SKU in a product line; it's not going to be like .ac when you see an entire product line migrating quickly. The .11ad will be in high end products, but have a low adoption rate."

While Nitero will focus its first release on displays for wireless 4K video, gaming and multiple monitors, Kelly said he can see the company's 60GHz modules being used for finer location tracking and backhaul applications. Kelly is skeptical, however, of .11ad's suitability for use in high bandwidth environments like an office, which Cisco has invested in.

Nitero is demonstrating its 60GHz chip that will go into mass production in 2015.

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