Saturday, January 30, 2010

"Boom headshot" or why friends don't let friends game over WiFi

A wire, any wire is better than WiFi--even powerline.

xkcd is a very funny and very geeky comic which is well worth following daily.

DirecTV explores Wi-Fi, networks and choosed MoCA

Rick Merritt over at the EE Times is reporting that "DirecTV is testing versions of Wi-Fi and aims to test wired links based on the ITU standard".

DirectTV's VP of set top engineering Henry Derovanessian is quoted saying:
"Wireless and are very much in their infancy and in R&D stages, and don't know when we'd be ready to talk about productization," he added. 
"I hear it will be any day we'll get our hands on [ samples], but I haven't seen them yet and we want to see them"
If Henry is expecting them samples from CopperGate soon, he should ask CopperGate where is the HomePlug AV chip they bought practically finished form Connexant two years ago. Or DS2's 400Mbps UPA chip fro around the same time period.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

devolo Launches Next-Generation Powerline Solutions at CeBIT 2010

Looks like devolo has bought into the whole IEEE 1901 standard and the Atheros 7400 chip.

Claiming 500Mbps for IEEE 1901, out pacing claims of 400Mbps; what is 100 Mbps among friends. Any case, pox of both of them knowing we will only get a third of the claims in real-life.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Fastest? IEEE 1901 or, fight!

PHY data rates for any HAN technology, except good old Ethernet, are lies, but they are useful to compare within technologies. has been claiming they are 1Gbps, but DS2 told a local on-line magazine that their next chip is only 400Mbps.

IEEE 1901 is more or less HomePlug AV which is rated at 200Mbps, but there are optional features to go faster; how fast? Atheros announced  their IEEE 1901 AR7400 chip to be 500Mbps.

Real world performance will not be the same, but for on-the-box speed IEEE 1901 wins.

DS2's past, present and future

The on-line magazine, Spain Technology for Life, has nice article profiling DS2's past, present and future. Well worth a read.

Highlights are that DS2:
  • started in 1998 at the European Innovative Companies Center (CEEI) in the Paterna Technology Park (Valencia
  • will have a chip rated 400Mbps (not the 1Gbps HomeGrid touts) and first industrial prototypes will be ready by late 2010 or early 2011
  • had $20 million in sales in 2008, compared to $15 million in 2007 and $12 million in 2006
  • has over 140 employees
Nice to see a silicon company outside of the Silicon Valley.

NIST Publicly Dresses Down HomeGrid

Everybody knows that HomeGrid has a very effective marketing effort promoting, but they have been overreaching with NIST and NIST looks to be fed-up with HomeGrid's public misstatements.

Previously, NIST was lied tomislead big time when HomeGrid lobbied to put the broken and incomplete PHY on NIST's draft list of Smart Grid Standards last September. NIST managers figured it out, and removed from the final list. But surely NIST managers were not happy--but they took it quietly.

Now, during a recent NIST Smart Grid conference call, HomeGrid kept pressing in their presentation that was an "approved" NIST standard.  This seems to have really annoyed NIST; so much so that NIST insisted that HomeGrid's presentation remove all references to NIST and then had an email sent to the entire membership setting the facts straight. The email started....
"NIST would like to comment on some inaccuracies in the slides for the presentation ... titled " Home Area Network protocol standard"
NIST then when on to disassociate themselves from, ITU,, HomeGrid ....

It is an interesting question how long Intel management will continue to be happy to be associated with the bad behavior of a group like HomeGrid (Intel is a founding member of HomeGrid).

Monday, January 25, 2010

Monster Cable is the New Plumbing Company of the Wired Home Network

Alan Weinkrantz, over at his fan site, is 100% correct when he writes that Monster Cable being the "the new plumbing company of the wired home network". It now means that normal people will be buy poweline devices when they buy a TV.

Note that this is not a chip (Alan forgot to be explicate about this)--Monster only uses HomePlug AV chips and in this case it is a HomePlugAV/IEEE 1901 chip from Atheros (AR7400).

Another funny think is Monster and Atheros cannot decide how fast the AR7400 is. Monster says 1Gbps and Atheros says 500Mbps (remember these are PHY rates, TCP/UDP rates are about one third of this).

HAN Fan Twitter Feed

You can follow all of HAN Fan's ramblings on the Twititer Feed.
The feed also has shorter and less researched comments, opinions and rumors not found in the HAN Fan blog.

SiBeam takes 60 GHz a step forward

EE Times has an article declaring 60 GHz chips "No longer expensive, hot and noisy".

They have two out of three right, maybe.

SiBeam done a shrink of their chip's semi  technology from 90 to 65 nm. EE Times says that this has cut power consumption nearly in half. Excellent progress, and the fact the fans are no longer needed is poof of the progress. We still need to see actual consumption.

Now the price is another matter. The shrink for sure reduces the price, but "adapters costing less than $200" is not cheap. Even forgetting you need two of these chips to have a solution, can anybody really see DVD and TV manufactures adding one of these chips to their product--to replace a $20 cable?

While promising, this technology still needs 2-3 years of development and another shrink.

Friday, January 22, 2010

New HAN Standards War: Gbps Wireless

Standards wars are so much fun to watch, and we have one in our little old HAN world:

"cable replacement Gbps wireless which wants to do whole house video"

Notwithstanding previously noted previously expressed views on cable replacement, wireless is useful for some HAN applications (actually WiFi is very useful on a notebook PC), so lets see who are the players:
  • WirelessHD
    Data rates: up to 25 Gbps (other places says 3 Gbps)
    Band: 57~67 GHz (depends on national regulation)
    Bandwidth: ~1GHz

  • WiGig
    Data rates: up to 7 Gbps
    Band: 60 GHz
    Bandwidth: ?

  • WHDI (Wireless Home Digital Interface)
    Data rates: up to 3Gbps
    Band: 5GHz unlicensed band
    Bandwidth: 40MHz
So who is going to win for the whole house video? Not WirelessHD or WiGig as they are using 60GHz which does not go through walls; in fact it is none to happy about going through air with water vapor in it.. So WHDI  is the winner by default, right? No so fast. WHDI  uses the 5Ghz and there is a 400 pound gorilla waiting for them (we know him as 802.11n).

As for cable replacement market, please see previously expressed views.

Get the popcorn and an easy-chair, and set back and watch these technologies go nowhere slowly as the Standards Wars are waged as an aside.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Is a Home Networking Standard Yet? You betcha. You loose.

Rich Nesin, General Manager and Resident Philosopher, HomePNA, is claiming that (aka HomePNA Version 4) is soup--ready-to-go.

While the broken PHY specification was finally fixed in a recent meeting, they are still finalizing the MAC. Clearly the MAC will be "agreed" in June 2010 and equally clear expect a load of amendments and  corrigendum in a years time to fix it as was done for the PHY. Review the ITU-T Study Group 15's history of the years efforts for them to make ADSL specification interoperable.

By-the-way, Rich does not mention's step child specification, (aka 9972). The idea of is to allow coexistence with other power line communication technologies. As HomePNA is a coax solution, this is not one of Rich's worries, but for to be success we need coexistence (as is in the IEEE 1901 standard).

60 GHz Cable Replacement Going Some Place?

There was no new buzz from the 60 GHz Cable Replacement guys. OK, SiBeam was showing off there new chip and Best Buy buying into SiBeam is cool, but the EE Times report that "Wireless video: warming up, far from hot", was not reassuring. By-the-way, the "other" UWB technology is "WirelessUSB is not hot" according the the same report. I wonder why, besides overprice Monster anything, the cable replacement guys think there is a market to replace a $10 cable with with $150 box+2 $10 cables. Other than a very nitch business/geek market, it seems they got nothing.

Please Give

It is great fun to comment daily on the Home Area Network technology and standard battles, but we have to pay attention to real life. This week the Haiti disaster is real life and it matters we support them.

So believers and non-believers in HAN  technology A or B, please believe in giving to Haiti this week.

So why did NIST unceremoniously dump HomeGrid's from the Smart Grid Standards list

In our post on NIST publishing (pdf) their 'final' list of Smart Grid Standards, we noted that Homegrid/ was demoted and is not longer on the list and wondered why as had huge support last September.

Thanks to an interview with Jerry FitzPatrick of NIST by a well resprected trade journeral, Smart Grid Today, we have some hints. The article appeared January 21, 2010, "What really changed from draft NIST roadmap to official version? plus 7 others held up as 2 for cyber-security added".

When Jerry FitzPatrick of NIST was asked why was demoted he replied:, a PLC standard for use over power, coaxial and telephone wires, was moved because "it was clear it didn't have the consensus around it that we originally thought it had,” Fitzpatrick said.
Who wants to bet that Jerry is none too happy about being led down the garden path about Somebody must of told Jerry was the United Nations standard of power line communications, so every likes it. Looks like Jerry has just figured out why the United Nations sucks.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

NIST Smart Grid Interoperability Standards Roadmap

NIST published (pdf) their 'final' list of Smart Grid Standards yesterday. Big money is to be made or lost if your technology is on the list or not.

The big news is Homegrid/ has been demoted and is not longer on the list. Last September, Homegrid's press release trumpeted " Approved by NIST for Use in Smart Grid Applications", based on a draft of the NIST list. Will we soon see a humbled retraction " disapproved by NIST for Use in Smart Grid Applications"?

It is a huge question how got on the NIST list to start with. At the time as the standard was only specified a broken and incomplete PHY. Today it is still missing the MAC (first draft will be approved in June 2010 and expected amendments and corrigendum six months after). is still at least a year from certified and interoperable chips.

So who sold, the now embarrassed, NIST managers a bill of goods? Do they have any credibility left?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Apple's home energy management dashboard

GreenBeat is reporting that Apple moving into home energy management--they even have taken out a patent on bits of it. Apple is using HomePlug HAN connect everything together.

Iomega HD Player needs wired home network

This review of Iomega HD Player got it right: 
"Wi-Fi networks tend be a bit sluggish for copying large files and playing HD anyway so you may want to look into a HomePlug adapter or CoAX adapter "
Able to play "HD movies purchased or rented from Cinema Now, an online movie rental service similar to iTunes and Amazon Video-on-Demand.", this device is screaming for easy connection to a HD ready home network like HomePlug (coax is an good option for technicians who know about splitters, but not for normal people).

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Broken & Incomplete ITU PHY specification updated

According to this post at the shill website Everywire, is reporting the ITU has consented two recommendations a changing the already approved PHY specification G.9960.  The G.9960 Amendment 1 is to fill in the missing bits in original PHY spec--is there more missing to make working chip? The G.9960 Corrigendum 1 fixes errors in the original PHY spec--how many more errors are left?

Clearly these last minute changes will impact and delay companies make chips. Hopefully none have spun chips as the G.9960 Corrigendum 1 is not compatible with the previous G.9960 specification. Seems that DS2 jumped the gun with this demo which if they need to re-spin it will speed up their death.

Also consented is the MAC.

We can expect the ITU to blindly approve all three consented documents in June 2010.  More changes to fix the PHY in June too?  Can we expect MAC amendments and  corrigendum in a years time as was done for the PHY?

All in all, it seems that the ITU is rushing a incomplete and unproven specification to the market. Too bad as the multi-media PHY/MAC sounded cool.

Update: Notice that Matt Theall, president of HomeGrid, does not mention that is broken or that the DS2 demo was not using a compatible PHY.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

EDN says: DS2 is dead, have no hope, and asks which PLC vendor will Broadcom buy

EDN Senior Technical Editor Brian Dipert posted his reporting on Powerline Networking at CES 2010.

Fantastic detailed insider information where he:

  • fauns over Atheros' HomePlug-AV turbo chip AR7400 which is IEEE 1901 compatible
  • reveals that Gigle's firmware was released early due to Belkin wanting to make the Christmas rush
  • claims that "DS2...appears to be on life support (or worse)" and even provides confirmation on senior VP who have left DS2
  • trashes the ITU's make work project,: "unless faces up to de facto standardization reality and incorporates HomePlug AV into its specifications instead."
  • speculates which HomePlug-AV silicon company Broadcom will buy
Update: As several people have pointed out, speculation on the death of DS2 has been around for many years, so don't expect it any time soon.

Update2: The comments section makes very interesting reading. The suggestion that the PLC industry grab the 54-88 MHz  band from handful of TV stations now operating now in the US sounds good, but it is pretty clear, the PLC industry is not big enough to afford it.

    Sunday, January 10, 2010

    DS2 Demos First Prototypes, Delivers Dramatic Performance at CES 2010

    Great news if this demo is true. But the the press release seems strange.
    • Why is a fierce competitor like Ikanos posting for DS2? Need to ask Matt Keowen I  guess.
    • In the pass, DS2 had huge stands at CES and expensive signage all over CES that would make ebay blush at the cost. This year DS2 does not even have a small booth to do the demo
    • HomeGrid has a small private room hidden in the back of South Hall 2, so if there is a demo, it is hidden from public view--wonder why. I also wonder why DS2 could not even afford their own booth
    • DS2 has previously said they were have chips in 2009. Now they are saying 2010.
    • It was overheard after a presentation by a senior DS2 executive in Detroit a few weeks ago that they would only have a FPGA prototype implementation in March 2010.
    While wishing it was true, something sounds fishy.

    Thursday, January 7, 2010

    "Pass through" adaptor now main stream with HomePlug AV designs

    "Pass through" PLC adaptors are cool in that you don't loose a power socket when you plug the adaptor into the wall and, even better, filters any performance impacting high-frequency noise that my be injected by PCs, TVs and the like.

    NetGear has announced a pass through adaptor (Powerline 200 AV+ Adapter Kit--XAVB2501). It joins European manufacturers products: and

    AR7400 (ex-INT7400) 1Gbps PHY Rate says Monster

    Monster cable has a CES press release claiming that the AR7400 chip, previously known as the INT7400, has a 1Gbps PHY rate. This is a bit suspect as the Atheros product page still does not list the AR7400. 

    Fact checking Monster's CES press release shows a major lie saying AR7400 is the "world's fastest PowerLine Communication (PLC) product" and is "5X faster than all other PLC products currently on the market". Gigle's GGL541 has been on the market for over six months. 

    Any case, it is great to see the competition in the HomePlug AV (aka IEEE 1901) market heating up and giving us all more and better chips to choose from.

    Wednesday, January 6, 2010

    IEEE 1901 draft standard published today

    Big step forward for HomePlug and the IEEE P1901 guys. I guess the IEEE only does this when the standard is stable.

    Download (first pay for) your copy of the IEEE 1901 draft standard for powerline communications here. Officially its called "P1901 (D2.00) IEEE Draft Standard for Standard for Broadband over Power Line Networks: Medium Access Control and Physical Layer Specifications" and will set you back $300.

    HomePlugAV/IEEE 1901 more and more multi-source

    Two more new HomePlug AV compatible chips for CES. One is from a new vendor to boot, bringing to four the number HomePlug AV silicon vendors with chips.

    Sigma Designs, ex-CopperGate, has their 1st public demo at CES and first manufacturer of products using their HomePlug AV chip.

    Atheros, ex-Intellon, has proven that IEEE 1901 chips have a low time-to-market by announcing their IEEE 1901 chip.

    Monday, January 4, 2010

    Entropic & Atheros (ex-Intellon) demo MoCA/HomePlug coexistence

    According to Entropic's latest press releaseEntropic & Atheros (ex-Intellon) demo MoCA/HomePlug coexistence. They also give a jab at ITU's saying "there is no need to produce a completely new standard that does not provide backward interoperability with these existing market leading solutions".
    DEMO: Interoperability with HomePlug(TM)
    Entropic and Atheros will be demonstrating the ease at which two technologies can coexist together to distribute multimedia to any room of the home. This marks a joint collaboration between two leading home networking companies to show that Entropic's MoCA offerings and Intellon's HomePlug solutions are already able to adequately serve the needs of operators and consumers for delivering multimedia content. Standardization of next-generation technologies is underway and there is no need to produce a completely new standard that does not provide backward interoperability with these existing market leading solutions.

    DS2 Leaking Staff

    DS2 has lost a packet of top staff in 2009. The famed supporter of ITU's specification for multiple media home networking, seems to be having some hard times--we hope they make it past them quickly.

    There were rumours in March 2009 that DS2 had put their staff on half-time due to cash flow problems. We thought that when IBM loaned DS2 $2M that would solve the cash flow problem. Seems not.

    High profile, Chano Gomez, DS2's VP Technology & Strategic Partnerships and board member, LinkedIn profile was updated over the holidays that he has left DS2. No indication where he is going, other than his profile says San Francisco Bay Area.
    VP Technology & Strategic Partnerships
    DS2 Privately Held; Semiconductors industry
    June 2005 – December 2009 (4 years 7 months)

    Also leaving DS2 since May 2009: