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WiQuest Announces Gigabit Chipset

This week, WiQuest Communications announced the availability of its WQST110 and WQST101 two-chip solution, supporting wireless transmission at speeds of up to one gigabit per second – the WQST110 contains the MAC and PHY, while the WQST101 has the RF transceiver. The product is based on the specifications of the WiMedia Alliance, of which WiQuest is a member. 

Dr. Matthew Shoemake, the company’s President and CEO, says the first WiQuest-enabled products to hit the market in 2006 will be in the PC space, followed by aftermarket and consumer products. “The mobile space – PDAs, smartphones, mobile phones – will be releasing products into the market in 2007 and 2008 with ultrawideband,” Shoemake says.

Despite ongoing debate over a global ultrawideband (UWB) standard, Shoemake suggests that the IEEE is really no longer relevant to the technology – the companies behind the WiMedia Alliance, he says, have created their own specifications that will become the de facto standard. “It’s really a ‘who’s who’ of Tier 1 brands that are supporters of the WiMedia Alliance,” he says.

In terms of the larger ultrawideband market, Shoemake says that while some companies that were founded in 2000 or 2001 may have actually started too early and are now no longer in the market, WiQuest has timed its development well. “We started in late 2003, engineered in 2004 and 2005, are shipping our product now – and will be enabling products in 2006,” he says.

High performance, low power

In developing its solution, Shoemake says, WiQuest focused on ultrawideband’s strengths, in terms of both performance and power. “What ultrawideband is really good at is very high throughput – very high performance – and tremendous power efficiency,” he says. “And so we’ve focused on really amplifying those two discontinuities.”

In addition to gigabit speeds (which he says are just the beginning), Shoemake says power efficiency can also be crucial. “The manufacturers that are building digital still cameras, mobile phones and smartphones are very interested in megabits per second over milliwatt,” he says. “Their devices have more and more memory packed into them, and they want to move that data off without draining the battery.”

WiQuest’s other strengths, Shoemake says, include its flexibility and the completeness of its solution. “We believe we have the most flexible set of host interfaces in the market today, and that’s very valuable to our customers who are trying to enable pairs of products to communicate with one another,” he says.

And the completeness of the solution, Shoemake says, makes it simpler for companies to work with WiQuest. “You can get a complete chipset all the way from host interface to the antenna, with reference designs, software, firmware and drivers, and you can put it into your device – and using one chipset that’s been tested and optimized by WiQuest, you can enable your ultrawideband products,” he says. “The bottom line is, it makes it very easy for our customers to design the technology into their platforms.”

Maximizing throughput

While many applications might not require a full gigabit per second, Shoemake says there are many reasons why a provider might want to have that kind of throughput available, whether it’s moving a large amount of data as quickly as possible, ensuring maximum quality of service, or operating multiple devices on a single network.

In reaching a gigabit per second, Shoemake says, WiQuest avoided methods such as increasing the number of antennas or the amount of spectrum used. “We use exactly the same amount of spectrum as a standard WiMedia product,” he says. “We do it with higher spectral efficiency – we pack more bits into the same spectrum using advanced forward error correction.”

The company’s proprietary MAC, Shoemake says, also contributes to the efficiency of the solution. “If you have a gigabit per second physical layer, you need to make sure you have a MAC that can handle that, so you don’t bottleneck the system,” he says. “So we designed it ourselves – we customized it for very low power and efficient data transfer.”

With ultrawideband products finally anticipated for the coming year, Shoemake says 2006 will be the moment of truth for many companies.

“WiQuest is extremely well-positioned, with the integration level of our solution and with a lot of the differentiated features that we have,” he says. “So exactly how the other guys play out is very difficult to see, but I think the future looks bright for us.”