Wireless Systems Design

Adapter Cuts Gaming Loose

Every holiday season, both big kids and little kids put gaming systems and video games on their wish lists. Once they get them, though, they often start running cables everywhere. Even worse, they drill holes through the walls because the gaming system and the broadband Internet connection are in different rooms. Now, at least the rabid Xbox fans can be stopped.

Recently, Microsoft Corp. introduced the Xbox Wireless Adapter (See Photo). As a result, gamers no longer need to run wires from a broadband-Internet connection to the Xbox video-game system in another room. Co-developed by Xbox and Microsoft Broadband Networking, the Xbox Wireless Adapter enables gamers to play wirelessly on the Xbox Live service. (Xbox Live is a dedicated broadband online-gaming service. It has a worldwide subscriber base of more than 500,000 users. Those users participate in more than 15 million game sessions every week.)

By adding Xbox to an existing IEEE 802.11g or 802.11b Wi-Fi network, users can play on Xbox Live from an Xbox-connected television in the home. A simple setup process will configure the Xbox Wireless Adapter to the network. The adapter also offers security measures through an exclusive Xbox interface on the dashboard. Among the security features is Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP). These features help ensure that the network remains uncompromised.

At the heart of the Xbox Wireless Adapter is the 802.11g wireless-system-on-a-chip (WiSOC) chip set from Atheros Communications (www.atheros.com). That chip set, in turn, contains an integrated processor core from MIPS Technologies (www.mips.com). Thanks to Atheros' WiSOC chip set, users can connect to any 802.11g or 802.11b Wi-Fi network and play games wirelessly via the Xbox Live service. The chip set supports the 802.11b and 802.11g networks in the 2.4-GHz band.

Because Microsoft's adapter supports the 802.11g Wi-Fi standard, gamers can experience data-rate transfer speeds of up to 54 Mbps. Those speeds are five times faster than an 802.11b Wi-Fi network. Such higher performance provides a significant increase in throughput. The result is better user experience, such as live chats and higher-quality multiplayer and head-to-head gaming.

The Xbox Wireless Adapter is available at many retail stores. Its estimated U.S. retail price is $139.

Microsoft Corp.
One Microsoft Way, Redmond WA 98052-3699; (800) 426-9400, www.microsoft.com/hardware/broadbandnetworking/default.mspx.

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