Intel and Qualcomm sync up on 802.11ad interoperability

Both singing from the same detailed spec sheet now

Intel - logoIntel and Qualcomm, the two big players in 802.11ad, have announced they are officially compatible. SemiAccurate thinks any standards compatibility is a good thing, especially ones aimed at video streaming.

The big news may sound a bit underwhelming, Intel 802.11ad interoperable with Qualcomm 802.11ad, isn’t that the point of standards? Yes and no, it is the point, it is the main idea, and it should always be the case, but anyone involved in the minutia of such things knows that it never is anything close. There are asterisks all over that usually require exemptions, updates, and patches, but things eventually end up as a workable product.

Once you add in consumer level features that are exposed and should ‘just work’, there is a whole new level of pain to go through for engineers. Throw in the absurd requirements of the content MAFIAA and a minor hiccup can make the whole process fail with a cryptic message that some usually innocent third-party must field. Reality tends to be a long long way from the idea of putting your phone near your TV, pressing a button, and off you go. The more DRM infested the system, the less it tends to work at all much less well.

This is where compatibility testing, plugfests, and the rest come into focus, it is where the sort of messes that consumers tends to violently dislike get ironed out. According to the two companies, their engineers have been working together for months ironing out the various problems between the two 802.11ad implementations, the two are now, “achieving full interoperability”.

This is a good thing considering devices bearing the Qualcomm 802.11ad implementation are now shipping in volume. More interesting is that the first one to hit the market, the LeTV Le Max Pro is also from a major maker of TVs and panels some of which also have 802.11ad in them. You can be sure the LeTV phone will work with the LeTV TV, but others could be a hit and miss proposition.

For the technically astute, take a look at this bit from the release, “These tests spanned across many use cases and scenarios, including peer-to-peer connections between Intel- and Qualcomm Atheros 802.11ad WiGig – based clients and Qualcomm Atheros-802.11ad WiGig powered access points (wireless routers).” Qualcomm has both client and base station silicon, Intel only has client at the moment. You can pretty much assume that Qualcomm client silicon didn’t have significant compatibility problems with Qualcomm base station silicon, make of that what you will. With luck the work that went into today’s announcement will mean things do actually just work. We will know soon enough.S|A

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Charlie Demerjian

Roving engine of chaos and snide remarks at SemiAccurate
Charlie Demerjian is the founder of Stone Arch Networking Services and is a technology news site; addressing hardware design, software selection, customization, securing and maintenance, with over one million views per month. He is a technologist and analyst specializing in semiconductors, system and network architecture. As head writer of, he regularly advises writers, analysts, and industry executives on technical matters and long lead industry trends. Charlie is also available through Guidepoint and Mosaic. FullyAccurate