Atheros and Wilocity Team Up for Wireless PCI Express Tech

Atheros and Wilocity to Wed Wi-Fi with WiGig

by Anton Shilov
07/14/2010 | 11:36 PM

Atheros Communications, a leading designer of wireless chipsets, and Wilocity, a developer of 60GHz multi-gigabit wireless chipsets for various devices, on Wednesday announced that they are collaborating to build tri-band wireless solutions that combine the ubiquity and coverage of Wi-Fi with the multi-gigabit performance of the Wireless Gigabit (WiGig) Alliance’s 60GHz technology. The new tri-band technologies will enable many new applications, among which there will be products featuring wireless PCI Express technology.


Atheros and Wilocity are jointly developing tri-band solutions based on both the IEEE 802.11n standard and the new WiGig multi-gigabit wireless specification. Advanced 60 GHz technologies offer multi-gigabit speeds to complement existing Wi-Fi capabilities and enable new cutting-edge wireless applications. Tri-band devices that leverage all three bands will also maintain compatibility with the hundreds of millions of Wi-Fi products in use today, ensuring a seamless and simple user experience.

Wireless PCI Express (wPCIe) defines a split implementation of a PCI Express Switch with the upstream port (near-end) on the mobile device side and the downstream port (far-end) on the remote side (the DockingZone).

A PCI Express Switch is defined as a logical assembly of multiple virtual PCI-to-PCI Bridge devices by the PCI Express specification. The switch has a single upstream facing port and any number of downstream facing ports.

In a wPCIe implementation, the two parts of the switch are connected by a wireless system. The MAC and PHY sub-layers supply services to the wPCIe adaptation layer and switch. To the PCI Express layers, the switch appears as if it is co-located in a single location. Therefore, the software used to configure and manage the switch is identical to that of legacy switches/bridges. Even the operating system (OS) is not aware of the wireless split, and the far-end devices appear in the OS device manager as if they were locally connected.

A wPCIe implementation can define any number of downstream ports, each of which can be located either in the near-end or far-end. Because the switch is distributed over a wireless channel, once an air-link has been established, both sides of the link negotiate basic parameters including number of ports, configuration, size of buffers, etc. After a link is established, a set of messages carry both interface and management data between the two ends. External messages (upstream port and far end downstream) are mostly standard PCIe messages while internal messages (upstream port and far-end internal, near end-internal and far-end internal) are modified messages.

If wPCIe provides enough bandwidth, and will receive adoption from makers of consumer electronics and personal computers, then it has a lot of chances to enable such high-bandwidth products as external graphics accelerators as well as collaboration between various types of devices, creating something like cloud computing environment within home.