Wireless Systems Design

Reference Designs Target WLAN

Wireless local-area networks (WLANs) are gaining popularity. In homes and small business, however, WLANs have not enjoyed a warm welcome. That's because they are a little too expensive and their connectivity isn't quite seamless. To promote WLAN usage in these smaller arenas, Agere Systems (www.agere.com) and Ubicom, Inc. (www.ubicom.com) will deliver an 802.11b Wi-Fi reference design.

The companies are collaborating to deliver solutions that meet the cost, performance, size, and time-to-market requirements for WLAN applications. For their first offering, Agere and Ubicom are releasing a single-board reference design for access-point, repeater, and Ethernet-bridge solutions. The Agere/Ubicom access-point reference design is a complete solution. It includes Agere's WaveLAN (WL11411) Module, which is the industry's first integrated 802.11b radio and baseband module. It also integrates all of the major RF components, such as the RF baseband, direct-downconversion radio, antenna switch, and power amplifier. These components squeeze into a single surface-mount package that measures only 25 mm2.

The WaveLAN (WL60010) Media Access Controller (MAC) also hails from Agere. It provides programmable host-interface support, 1 MB of on-chip memory, and a glueless interface to Agere's 802.11b radio chip sets and modules. This MAC fully supports 802.11b standardized data rates of up to 11 Mbps.

For the processor and software platform, the reference design incorporates Ubicom's IP2000 family. Compared to competing technologies, this family claims to deliver wirespeed performance at up to half the cost, using one-third the power, and in one-tenth of the footprint. These processors are optimized to run the company's software offering, which includes a real-time operating system with a code size that is 20 times smaller than comparable Linux platforms. Ubicom also is adding its IP2000 development tools and kits to the reference design.

This reference design will begin sampling this month. Look for it to be available as an upgrade to Ubicom's wireless development kit and as a part of Agere's WaveLAN portfolio.

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