Mobile devices to beam 4K video direct to TVs with Qualcomm buy

Qualcomm will integrate WiGig in the Snapdragon 810 chip

Smartphones and tablets will be able to transmit 4K video directly to big screens next year now that mobile chip maker Qualcomm has acquired Wilocity.

Wilocity makes chips based on WiGig technology, which wirelessly transfers data between devices at speeds of up to 7Gbps (bits per second) over a limited distance.

Qualcomm will integrate that technology in its 64-bit Snapdragon 810 mobile chip, it said Wednesday when it announced the acquisition. The first smartphones and tablets with WiGig will ship in the second half of next year, said Cormac Conroy, vice president of product management and engineering for Qualcomm's Atheros division.

Device makers will ultimately decide if they want to use the WiGig chip in smartphones and tablets, a company spokeswoman said.

WiGig could spell the end of HDMI ports in mobile devices and also eliminate clutter and connectors required to transfer data or 4K video. WiGig is faster than Wi-Fi 802.11ac and LTE mobile broadband technologies, which are already in Snapdragon chips.

Qualcomm officials declined to say how much the company paid for Wilocity.

4K content is growing by the day and faster wireless data-transfer technologies are needed in mobile devices, Conroy said, adding it is the right time to integrate WiGig into Snapdragon.

Netflix has started streaming 4K video, and WiGig can turn mobile devices into media stations so streams can be dispatched to 4K TVs and displays. 4K video has a resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels, which is four times that of 1920 x 1080 pixel, high-definition video.

The utility of WiGig goes beyond 4K video. Intel wants to free PCs of wires by 2016 with the use of WiGig to connect desktops to displays, wireless keyboards and mice. Intel also views WiGig as a preferred data-transfer technology for mobile devices over low-power Thunderbolt, which would involve connectors and wires.

Dell is using WiGig technology in a wireless laptop dock.

Mobile device users will be able to sync data with the cloud faster through WiGig, said Tal Tamir, vice president of product management at Qualcomm Atheros, and formerly CEO of Wilocity.

Data exchange between mobile devices and the cloud is heavier in the enterprise, and WiGig will provide low-power, multi-gigabit throughput, Tamir said.

With PC-like data transfer capabilities, mobile devices could come close to becoming full-fledged computers, Tamir said. But WiGig won't replace wired connectors like USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt, which are widely used in computers, external storage devices, monitors and other peripherals.

WiGig has been around for years, but adoption has been slow. Qualcomm's integration of the technology into smartphone and tablet chips should push adoption of the technology.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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