Practical Technology

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Wires? We don’t need no stinking Wires! Gigabit Wi-Fi

I think Intel’s Thunderbolt technology with its 10Gbps (Gigabit per second) speeds and support for both for data transfer and displays sounds wonderful. And, yes, I like the idea of cutting down the number of wires coming out of my entertainment center and computers with Thunderbolt. But, really wouldn’t you rather have no wires at all? That’s what a quartet of Wi-Fi technologies are promising.

None of these technologies are quite ready for prime-time, but then, neither is Thunderbolt. Thunderbolt uses the DisplayPort and PCI-Express data protocols over two data transmission channels, and, in theory, can hit up to 10Gbps over copper. That’s twice as fast as USB 3.0. Eventually, optical connections are supposed to bring that up to 100Gbps in burst mode. Even the fastest commercial SATA drives can only deliver 6Gbps.

So, while Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 are all fine in their place, shouldn’t we really be looking to technologies like 802.11ac, 802.11ad, Wireless Gigabit aka WiGig, and Wi-Fi Direct? No, they’re not as fast, but they can everything that Thunderbolt or USB 3.0 can do without any wires.

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