Intel will discontinue WiGig parts for Broadwell and Skylake systems

Intel has announced plans to end production and sales of compatible WiGig interfaces and controllers for Broadwell and Skylake-based systems. The company will stop accepting orders for affected parts from September 29 with shipments winding up on December 29.

WiGig is the name for the 60GHz 802.11ad wireless network protocol which boasts multi-gigabit speeds with minimal latency. However, the technology has had limitations such as reduced range due to its high operating frequency of 60GHz. and subsequent issues with penetrating walls and obstacles. This meant that WiGig technology was often used in small environments with line-of-sight to the broadcast source.

Notwithstanding these limitations, WiGig found its way into some of Intel's laptop docks, wirelessly connecting a laptop to high-resolution monitors and external peripherals. However, despite the trend in the slimming down of laptops and removal of ports, it seems WiGig adoption in laptops and other systems has remained relatively low. Also, with the proliferation of USB Type-C and incorporation of Thunderbolt into USB ports, WiGig seems to have come off second best. Given that Thunderbolt 3 can offer up to ten times the throughput of WiGig (40Gbps versus 4Gbps), the latter didn't quite stack up in terms of relative performance and cost.

Conversely, this does not conclude Intel's exit from the 60GHz network space completely. Interest in untethered Virtual Reality headsets continues to grow, with the company having previously announced a partnership with HTC which will see it incorporate 802.11ad connectivity in an upcoming Vive VR headset. A comparable wireless solution for the HTC Vive headsets is available from TPCast which provides an untethered experience, albeit with added weight and price. The company will also explore the use of WiGig in 5G and mesh network implementations.

In the meantime, Intel has stated that WiGig components for Kaby Lake systems are still available to manufacturers. At this stage, Intel has not divulged whether or not it also intends to withdraw these parts from general availability any time soon.

Source: Anandtech via ArsTechnica

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