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More USB 3.0 And Wireless TV

CES '09: Morsels From Our Meetings

Symwave claims that there’s also a lot of work going into the USB 3.0 driver to improve its efficiency. Though it’d be possible for USB 2.0 to transfer at around 50 MB/s, you generally see it moving data about half that fast. When USB 3.0 goes to market, it’s expected to sustain somewhere are 300 MB/s instead. Granted, the demo we saw only showed sustained 80 MB/s transfers, but that’s about all you’d expect from a single SATA drive. Realizing those higher-end speeds will require larger RAID arrays.

As with past peripheral interfaces, such as eSATA and USB 2.0, Symwave expects devices to support USB 3.0 before the controllers (and invariably chipsets) start incorporating support. Fortunately, USB 3.0 devices will plug into USB 2.0 ports in the interim.

The most applicable application of USB 3.0 right out of the gate, according to the representatives we talked to, is external storage. Funny, we thought, eSATA is just now gaining traction in the same field. So why would anyone want to bother with USB 3.0 when you can get native SATA performance using the external specification? Briefly, enthusiasts probably won’t want to replace their eSATA devices with USB 3.0 right away, since a USB device will require a controller to adapt native SATA interfaces anyway.

USB 3.0 hardware and software is still very young. So, if you were holding off on buying a new X58 motherboard or were planning on avoiding the first round of AM3 platforms hoping for USB 3.0 shortly thereafter, don’t hold your breath. The general consensus in Symwave’s Hilton suite was that it’d be somewhere around back-to-school time in 2010 before the controllers and peripherals were both online to complete the ecosystem. Even still, we’re anxious to see both sides of the equation surface and start enabling high-speed applications beyond just the external storage Symwave is forecasting.

Wireless HDTV? What’s The Catch?

Our next stop was to Amimon’s suite, where the Israeli startup was showing off televisions employing its WHDI technology, which uses a 5 GHz MIMO engine to transmit video data wirelessly. Rather than using the 2x2 antenna configuration found on most 802.11n devices, WHDI is employing 4x5 to enable ample bandwidth for its application. Amimon’s director of product management, Uri Kanonich, emphasized that the displays he was showcasing are already shipping, so the tech itself was nothing new.

All of the Amimon-powered televisions in the suite were referred to as two-piece TVs consisting of the transmitter box and the receiver-equipped panel itself (incidentally, the displays were significantly thinner as a result of shedding the connectivity electronics normally found in single-piece TVs). By making all of your A/V connections to the transmitter itself, you eliminate the wires that’d normally need to run from a PS3, DVD player, or stereo receiver to the set itself.

As a natural skeptic of wireless technology and anything relating to audio or video that’s also temporally sensitive, it was important to understand how the transmitter gets information to the receiver without any sacrifice in quality or the addition of noticeable latency in high-bit rate workloads.

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