Despite the current state of the industry, the WLAN segment is flourishing with growth and innovation. This article on troubleshooting dual-band WLAN radios greatly exemplifies the work being done. From designers to manufacturers, many industry members are hustling to create WLAN products and push this technology forward. We at Wireless Systems Design saw an impressive sampling of such developments during the WLAN Conference Track at this year's Wireless Systems Design Conference & Expo, which took place last month in San Jose, CA. To educate yourself more on WLANs, consider these presentations to be a great resource. To find out how you can gain access to the full conference proceedings, go to the conference Web site at www.wsdexpo.com.
Built-In WLAN Privacy: Today and Tomorrow
Jin Jung, Senior Product Manager, RSA Security
Despite the growing popularity of 802.11b WLANs, they remain insecure and unsuitable for many enterprise network environments. WiFi networks are known for weak authentication, access management, and encryption. To address these weaknesses, the IEEE 802.11 Task Group and other standards bodies are developing powerful, standards-based specifications and protocols to strengthen authentication and access management while empowering the vulnerable WEP security protocol that is currently used. This session reviews the known WLAN security weaknesses and explains the new standards and protocols under development. Through this presentation, attendees should gain insight into the future of WLAN security.
State of Wireless Chip Technology
Neil Hamady, Product Line Manager, WLAN Products, Bermai
Chip technology changes so quickly that semiconductor customers are forced to quickly adjust the design of their products. They must fully leverage the new features enabled by these leading-edge devices. Staying competitive means staying innovative. For wireless companies that can act fast, there are big rewards in designing new solutions as soon as they emerge. With the ever-increasing interest in wireless technologies, companies that can provide the absolute lowest number of devices on the bill of materials (BOM) and reduce board costs will help to accelerate the rate of 802.11a/b adoption by businesses and consumers. The improvement in wireless chip technology will soon give equipment manufacturers low-cost, low-power-consumption, and small-form-factor solutions for wireless products. Explore the advantages of advanced chips using orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (OFDM) on CMOS—the Holy Grail in the wireless world—and why the tricky, yet effective OFDM approach is truly the next major wave in the wireless evolution.
A Look at Standards Evolution
Stuart Kerry, Wireless Business Development Executive, Philips Semiconductor Division, and Chair of IEEE 802.11 Committee
As Chair of the IEEE 802.11 Committee, Stuart presents a view on the standards evolution: Where are we today? Where are we going? What is the long-term future? In addition, he discusses planning for security, the high-throughput devices of the future, and interoperability.
A New Enhancement-Mode PHEMT Medium Power Amplifier for Wireless LANs
Monica Bhatnagar, Design Engineer, and Al Ward, Senior Applications Engineer, Agilent Technologies
A new high-performance 5-to-6-GHz Medium Power Amplifier is presented here using enhancement-mode PHEMT technology. This GaAs PHEMT amplifier demonstrates excellent power output and power-added efficiency for 5.8-GHz applications using enhancement-mode FET technology. The amplifier features an integrated bias circuit and partial on-chip matching to make an economical, low-current, easy-to-use MMIC amplifier. The Medium Power Amplifier is ideal for use as a driver amplifier in CPMCIA cards (802.11a) and in fixed access-point applications for 5.2 to 5.8 GHz (UNII & HyperLAN bands). As an output amplifier, it offers a small signal gain of 12 dB, a saturated power of 22 dBm, and a saturated gain of 9 dB at 5.8 GHz. This device has a nominal current consumption of 100 mA at a device voltage of 3.3 V with power-added efficiencies nearing 50%.
Embedded CMOS Radio and Baseband IP for 802.11a/b/g Wireless-LAN Devices
Jan Biermann, Product Line Manager, WLAN, NewLogic Technologies
This session presents the characteristics of the WLAN IP for Logic Designs (WiLD), a powerful multimode digital IP core with a complete software stack for IEEE 802.11a/b/g Wireless LAN systems and the associated CMOS radio. All of these parts are necessary and sufficient to create a complete WLAN product while bringing significant advantages to product designers. The session starts with a short introduction to WLAN systems in an effort to understand the global context of the project. Then, the architecture of the WiLD MAC part is presented, highlighting its structure and characteristics. The core is based on a high-speed, multi-master processor-based platform. By using standard buses, the platform has been designed for flexibility and expandability using existing AHB or APB devices. Generalized DMA and dedicated hardware-processing units allow the handling of the 54-Mbps WLAN data streams with a single processor running at 80 MHz. This description is followed by the signal-processing hardware for 802.11a and 802.11b, explaining how the modems are implemented. The performance of these blocks is critical for the quality of the wireless link. It directly impacts the range and throughput of the final device.
The WiLD RF is presented, which is a CMOS dual-band radio adapted to the 802.11a/b/g standards. Its original architecture and performance are also discussed to show how the full system optimization helps to bring the quality of the implementation to a very high level. Finally, a conclusion shows the potential applications for the WiLD products and the advantages of choosing intellectual property in terms of the cost, size, and power consumption of the final WLAN products.
Expanding the Role of 802.11 Technologies in LAN and WAN, Data and Voice, Unlicensed and Licensed Applications
Sheung Li, Product Line Manager, Atheros Communications
One of the stock truisms of wireless discussions is how 802.11, 3G, and Bluetooth are complementary technologies. This is becoming less true every day. Recent innovations in WLAN technology and increases in price/performance have dramatically increased the application space for 802.11. Around the world, the contrast between "efficient" use and "dedicated" use have also propelled 802.11 vs. 3G into the crux of regulatory policy debates. This session focuses on the expanding role of 802.11 technologies in LAN and WAN, data and voice, and unlicensed and licensed applications.
A Look at Wireless Broadband Services:
802.11 Hotspots Versus 3G
Stephen Saltzman, Director of Strategic Investments for Intel Capital, Intel Corp.
Wi-Fi networks have gone from covering a room to covering a city. Review the applications and usage models that public Wi-Fi networks enable, as well as the technical challenges and opportunities that they represent.
Overcoming Power Amplifier Efficiency vs. Linearity Tradeoffs in Multiband OFDM Wireless LAN Systems
Jim Wight, Principal Architect, IceFyre Semiconductor
Explore the relationship between power-added efficiency (PAE) and error vector magnitude (EVM) (or transmit modulation accuracy) and their impact on power consumption, as well as the transceiver performance of 5-GHz OFDM wireless-LAN systems. Analyze the design and operation of traditional OFDM modem design with the unmitigated Peak to Average Power Ratio (PAPR), then review the difficult tradeoff that exists between system-level PAE and EVM in linear and distorted operation modes of commercially available, linear power-amplifier (PA) devices. Finally, contrast them against the commercial requirements of next-generation 802.11a WLAN systems.