Atheros single chip design

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Tom Keating
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Atheros single chip design

Some interesting news from Atheros. Definitely keep your eye on Atheros. They are very strong in the WiMAX market which will no doubt take off in 2005.

This single-chip design sports an integrated 802.11a/b/g design -- Media Access Controller (MAC), baseband processor, and a high-performance radio with both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz capabilities.

It even has potential for VoIP, though I'm surprised the chip doesn't also support WiMAX. Check out the full release:
Atheros Communications, Inc. , a leading developer of advanced wireless LAN (WLAN) chipsets, today announced the world's first complete single-chip IEEE 802.11a/b/g WLAN solution, the Atheros AR5006X. The chip integrates an entire 802.11a/b/g solution -- Media Access Controller (MAC), baseband processor, and a high-performance radio with both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz capabilities -- in a low-cost digital CMOS design. Offering seamless connectivity to all Wi-Fi networks anywhere in the world, full support for the IEEE 802.11i security standard, and support for Atheros XR(TM) (eXtended Range) and Super AG(TM) performance enhancements, the AR5006X is ideal for PC OEM, enterprise, retail, and consumer electronics devices.

The breakthrough single-chip IEEE 802.11a/b/g solution complements Atheros' launch in January 2004 of the industry's first single-chip IEEE 802.11b/g solution. It further solidifies the company's position as a market leader in high-performance, low-cost wireless LAN semiconductors.

"This is one of the most impressive and important announcements in the history of wireless LANs," said Craig Mathias, a Principal with the wireless advisory firm Farpoint Group (Ashland, MA). "A low-cost, single-chip a/b/g implementation is key to the expansion of traditional WLAN markets, but also enables new, high-growth applications in a broad range of mobile devices. And with essentially the same performance as two-chip designs, we expect the AR5006X to have a huge impact on the Wi-Fi market overall."

The highly integrated AR5006X not only eliminates one chip of a previous two-chip solution, it also incorporates innovative design approaches that eliminate the need for up to 24 discrete components. As a result, it enables 802.11a/b/g reference designs that have 15 percent fewer parts and a correspondingly less expensive BOM (bill of materials). These simpler, lower-cost wireless designs will be greatly beneficial in products such as aftermarket PC cards, embedded PCI and mini-PCI cards, WLAN-on-motherboard solutions for personal computers, access points, home gateways, set-top boxes, digital media adapters, handheld consumer electronics, and VoIP handsets, among many others.

"The AR5006X chip achieves an unprecedented level of integration without sacrificing wireless LAN performance," said Colin Macnab, vice president of marketing and business development at Atheros Communications. "By continuing to produce innovations that drive performance and lower WLAN system cost, we are powering the next-generation of high performance 802.11a/b/g wireless networking products."

Atheros' high-performance, low-power WLAN chips support the industry's most robust security standard, IEEE 802.11i. An AES encryption engine is built into the hardware of all Atheros 802.11a/b/g and 802.11b/g chipsets, allowing real-time encryption with no performance degradation in computing, consumer electronics and wireless broadband applications. Atheros' chipsets also support the WMM(TM) (Wi-Fi Multimedia) and draft 802.11e Quality of Service (QoS) specifications, providing advanced features for delivering wired-quality video and audio content via a wireless connection.

Super AG(TM) technology
Atheros' popular Super AG performance-enhancement features are supported in the new single-chip AR5006X. Super AG employs multiple techniques including Dynamic Turbo with Adaptive Radio technology, packet bursting, fast frames, and data compression to dramatically increase the throughput and range of wireless networking products. The technology supports up to 108 megabits-per-second (Mbps) link rates, and enables user throughput of more than 60 Mbps.
eXtended Range technology

The AR5006X chip also supports Atheros' eXtended Range technology, XR, which provides single access point coverage in home networking environments, eliminates "dead spots" in corporate wireless LANs, and provides outdoor coverage of up to two times the distance of competing WLAN solutions.

Atheros AR5006X pricing and availability
Atheros is currently sampling the AR5006X, with volume production expected in Q4 2004. List price for the AR5006X chip is under $12 in 10,000 unit quantities

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