Samsung breathes life into dying wireless USB standard

Announces new high-speed, low-power chipset

AH YES, WIRELESS USB, hands up everyone that’s using it – right, never mind then. Well, it seems like Samsung is trying to breathe new life into what so far has been a mostly useless extension of the USB standard by introducing a new chipset which is set to boost speed and lower power usage. Hopefully it also features a built in microscopic nuclear reactor so the remote device doesn’t need any additional power.

Samsung’s new solution consists of a pair of chips, namely the S3C2680 and S5M8311. The intended market for the new two chip solution is streaming of HD content and as such Samsung is hoping to see its WUSB solution appear in digital cameras, HD camcorders, TVs and of course PCs. Additionally Samsung is hoping for potential usage in tablet PCs, printers, projectors, portable hard drives, Blu-ray players and even smartphones.

WUSB could be handy in some devices, but considering that power is needed it doesn’t make that much sense for devices that are battery powered, but also charge over USB, as the added benefit of plugging these devices into a USB port is that they’re also charged at the same time. As far as printers are concerned, Wi-Fi is likely to remain the predominant technology, especially considering that even fairly basic all-in-one devices feature Wi-Fi as standard these days.

Samsung’s new chips use less than 300mW of power which really isn’t’ a huge amount, but it means that you either have to plug in most devices to a power source or they have to be fitted with a battery for WUSB to work. One of the interesting implementations mentioned in the press release is an EyeFi competitor, as Samsung’s new WUSB chipset can be integrated into an SD card and allow access to the pictures over WUSB. It’s a bit late to the game, but it’s one of the first truly useful ideas we’ve seen for WUSB.

There’s no mention as to what kind of performance improvements we can look forward to as one of the big downsides of WUSB so far has been the poor throughput which has, so far, not surpassed even half that of USB 2.0. Hopefully this is something Samsung has been able to address with its new chipset. The only real benefit we can that WUSB brings to the table over competing solutions is that it should at least in theory be plug and play, unlike Wi-Fi which can something of a hassle to set up. Despite some advantages over its competitors, it’s unlikely that WUSB will gain any real market share as there just isn’t a significant need for WUSB.S|A

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Marcelo Tavares