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Wireless USB Spec Opened To Adopters

Wireless USB took a big leap towards standardization -- and its seven major proponents hope towards market adoption -- with the release of a version 1 specification.

John Walko

May 25, 2005

2 Min Read

LONDON — Wireless USB took a big leap towards standardization — and its seven major proponents hope towards market adoption — with the release of a version 1 specification.

Backers Intel, Agere Systems, Microsoft, NEC, Philips Semiconductors, Samsung and Hewlett Packard have defined the specification with the help of another 100 contributing companies. They announced its release at the first Wireless USB Developers Conference this week in San Jose, Calif.

Management of what is in effect a de facto standard has been passed to the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF), the governing body for all USB specifications, which will begin certification, compliance testing and logo licensing.

Wireless USB is based on the WiMedia MAC convergence architecture, utilizing the WiMedia Alliance's MB-OFDM ultrawideband (UWB) MAC and PHY. It was designed to coexist with the other upper-layer protocols built atop WiMedia's common radio platform, and delivers speeds equivalent to wired Hi-Speed USB, with bandwidth of 480 Mbit/s at 3 meters and 110 Mbit/s at 10 meters.

"We've delivered on the promise we made in 2004 to complete the specification and make it publicly available in 2005," said Jeff Ravencraft, chairman of the Wireless USB Promoter Group. "Product development is currently underway, with the first Wireless USB products expected to be available at the end of 2005."

To meet its self-imposed deadline, backers had to choose between the two competing versions of UWB, one MAC and PHY being pushed by the WiMedia Alliance. Many of its members also belong to the Wireless USB promoter group, or backed incompatible technology from the UWB Forum, whose main backer is Freescale Semiconductor.

The first implementations will be in the form of discrete silicon that is being introduced in several form factors such as add-in cards, external adapters and embedded silicon modules for integrated solutions.

Compliance and interoperability testing is expected to begin by the end of June at a laboratory being established by Intel. The group is aiming to make Wireless USB as easy to use as the wired USB 2.0 version, with similar plug-and-play capabilities.

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