SiBEAM announces second-generation wireless networking chips

Wireless chip maker SiBEAM said it is preparing to launch its second-generation product, dubbed SiBEAM Gen2, for moving video at high speeds throughout a digital home.

The wireless chip maker said it is beginning mass production of the chip. It also said at the Consumer Electronics Show this week in Las Vegas that the nation’s largest electronics seller, Best Buy, will sell private-labeled SiBEAM-based gear and invest in SiBEAM as well.

The new-generation chip set will make the wireless modules smaller so that they can easily fit within the guts of a flat-panel TV. On top of that, SiBEAM is also starting a licensing program to give its solution to other manufacturers who could sell it. That way, other companies could further reduce the cost of the wireless networking by integrating SiBEAM’s chip set into their own radio chips. The second-generation chips will ship in the first quarter.

SiBEAM’s technology is the basis for a wireless networking standard dubbed Wireless HD. In the future, Lemoncheck said that future generations of WirelessHD will support enhancements such as 3-D viewing TVs, low power, speeds ranging from 10 gigabits per second to 28 gigabits a second, and higher resolutions. At such rates, you could transfer a two-hour HD movie in 10 seconds.

Best Buy, meanwhile, is investing an undisclosed amount into SiBEAM in a third round of investment for the company. Best Buy will also launch WirelessHD products under its Rocketfish house brand.

SiBEAM has been shipping the technology since 2007 and it is one of several contenders to create high-speed wireless networking in the home. The wireless networking is faster than Wi-Fi, though it has a shorter range, and is able to replace wires that carry high-definition video from one device to another.

Best Buy, LG, Panasonic and Sony have been shipping products with SiBEAM’s 60-gigahertz wireless transfer chips. The chips can transfer data wirelessly at 10 gigabits per second, or many times faster than Wi-Fi. But the technology has a range of about 10 meters and doesn’t really go through walls. Earlier today, SiBEAM also said that Vizio, the largest U.S. TV maker, will build SiBEAM’s chips into a line of its TVs starting this summer.

The WirelessHD consortium is trying to establish the technology as a standard, but it competes with the WiGig Alliance, which is fusing Wi-Fi and 60-gigahertz technology, and WHDI, a standard supported by Amimon that uses 5-gigahertz technology. John Lemoncheck, chief executive of SiBEAM, acknowledges the different standards may be confusing for consumers.

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