The WiMedia Alliance has a slew of announcements today on certified devices: The ultrawideband (UWB) standard for personal area networks (PANs) that's emerged under the guidance of the WiMedia Alliance hit a big milestone today, one that will finally bring us closer to a bunch of interoperable and interesting devices on the marketplace. Twelve platforms from the whole range of UWB chipmakers and system designers were certified by the group for its Common Radio Platform. What that means is that at the physical (PHY) layer and the media access control (MAC) layer, devices will interact to avoid interference, handle coordination, and work together.
This is a big milestone that goes beyond the Certified Wireless USB announcements in the summer, as the USB part is an application, or a type of data standard that runs over the MAC layer, which in turns uses the PHY for communication. This interoperability is a key part of establishing the broad range of devices and applications that work together.
With certification set, end-user equipment makers or OEMs can start integrating UWB without fear that silicon would need to change or that a consumer electronics device would suddenly need a firmware upgrade, which is typically problematic on mass-market devices that lack interfaces for easy upgrade. These platforms that were certified are complete modules which can be tied into existing devices, like a mini-PCI or smaller form factor. At some point, UWB winds up being a chip that's just soldered right on the main board of a device, but that kind of integration typically comes far later than module-based add-ins.
UWB in this first form offers speeds of up to 480 Mbps within a few feet, and 110 Mbps at up to a few dozen feet.