Networking and storage: What to expect at CES 2012

CNET editor Dong Ngo's educated guess on what you can expect to see at CES 2012 in terms of networking and storage.

CES gets bigger and better each year. What will 2012 bring?
CES gets bigger and better each year. What will 2012 bring? Dong Ngo/CNET

CES has always been the biggest show for consumer electronics. It's unlikely that anyone can actually visit all of the exhibition booths and demos, and see every single new product. I know I can't.

So it's helpful to have some ideas of what you can expect at the show. If networking and storage are among your interests, here are a few of my educated guesses on what will be showcased at the show.

On the networking front, it's definite that you will see the next generation (or I should say generations) of the 802.11 wireless standards.

At CES 2012, for the first time, you'll see how Ethernet is implemented in cars.
At CES 2012, for the first time, you'll see how Ethernet is implemented in cars. Dong Ngo/CNET

Just a while ago, Broadcom, one of the major makers of networking chipsets, showed me a preview of the new 802.11ac standard that brings the top speed to up to 1.4Gbps, almost 50 percent faster than a Gigabit connection, that is. And if that's not fast enough, Velocity also recently introduced the first chipset based on WiGig Alliance-backed 802.11ad 60Ghz wireless standard that offers up to 7Gbps ceiling throughput speed.

Both of the vendors have promised that they will have demos at the show and suggested that final products will be available starting mid 2012. It's likely that other networking vendors, such as Trendnet, Cisco, Netgear, or D-Link will have similar demos of the same new wireless technology.

Networking will also be available in more home appliances, such as TVs, refrigerators, ovens, microwaves, and even cars. Broadcom said it will also be demoing for the first time a new Ethernet-based solution for the rear-view camera, which not only enhances the quality of the image but also makes the whole solution more affordable and lighter.

More routers and networking devices will come with mobile apps for users to manage them on the go. Here's a screenshot of such an app from Cisco for its E-series routers.
More routers and networking devices will come with mobile apps for users to manage them on the go. Here's a screenshot of such an app from Cisco for its E-series routers. Screenshot by Dong Ngo/CNET

The development of networking is not just in terms of bandwidth but also the way the devices are integrated with the cloud. During 2011, more routers now come with cloud-based features, such as parent control or network storage. It's predicted that starting with 2012, more will come with mobile apps for users to monitor their network from their smartphone. Just recently, Cisco released the Cisco Connect Express app for iOS and Android devices. For now the app only works when the mobile device is connected to a Cisco home router's Wi-Fi network, however, making an app that does the same job via the Internet is just a matter of time.

Speaking of the cloud, this will also be a major development that you'll see in the storage department at CES 2012. Hard drive and NAS server vendors will continue to push the development of the personal cloud, which started with CES 2011, to compete with Apple's iCloud. Again, expect more integration of personal cloud storage service with mobile devices, making it easier for people to access their personal data on the go.

In terms of data transfer speed, hardware vendors will introduce their versions of Thunderbolt-enabled storage solutions. Currently Promise (with the Pegasus) and LaCie (with the Little Big Disk) are the only two vendors that offer Thunderbolt storage products. I hope this means that in the near future prices of these devices will be lowered to a sane level.

Also, I predict that Intel will finally introduce a Thunderbolt I/O port for Windows computers, whether or not it's still called Thunderbolt. It's been long enough that PC users have had to miss out on this superfast standard.

Speaking of fast, you'll find many demos of solid-state base drives and hopefully by mid 2012, the prices of standard 2.5-inch SATA drives will also be lowered, to be closer to those of standard hard drives.

Last but not least, IoSafe, the maker of disaster-proof storage devices, will also likely do another crazy demo of a new product. It has become a tradition that the company stages an over-the-top show to prove just how tough its products can be. To get an idea, check out ioSafe's demos of during CES 2009 , CES 2010 , and CES 2011 .

 

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