G.hn Silicon Emerges from Vaporware Territoryby Ganesh T S on February 2, 2011 3:33 PM EST
CES 2011 was quite exciting from the perspective of the powerline networking industry. G.hn silicon finally emerged from vaporware territory, and the initial demonstrations look promising. Of course, end products based on this silicon are probably 12 - 18 months away, but the threat for HomePlug is much more credible than what it was a year back. The absence of new silicon from the HomePlug vendors, as well as the distraction from IEEE P1905 will give a chance for the G.hn silicon vendors to catch up.
Though we didn't get a chance to look at Lantiq's offerings in the G.hn space, a look at their product brief [ PDF Link ] indicates that they are looking at their G.hn chip to enable hybrid platforms (extenders and multiple networking technologies in one product). The specs of the silicon from both Lantiq and Sigma Designs look similar. The backward compatibility with HomePNA and HomePlug AV/IEEE P1901 gives the Sigma silicon the theoretical edge.
It is the end consumer experience and improvements from proprietary algorithms such as ClearPath which will decide the winner in the G.hn silicon race. There are also a number of issues for G.hn itself to overcome in its fight against HomePlug. Interoperability with the already large installed base of HomePlug would be good, but this needs to be done without performance loss. It is good to see Sigma Designs taking the cue here and providing support for interoperability, but this should not be proprietary (as other G.hn silicon vendors don't want to implement this). There is still a lot of work left to be done in terms of software maturity and making the products carrier-grade. Controlling end product costs in the price sensitive retail consumer market will also be a challenge.
All said, we can't wait for G.hn products to hit consumers and the HomePlug forum to pull up their socks to counter the competition. It is an exciting time ahead for the powerline networking industry.