Electronic Design

First Wireless LAN Security Processors Should Trigger Enterprise Growth

A novel line of wireless security chips could jumpstart the stagnating wireless local-area network (WLAN) enterprise and aggregation points markets. Cavium's NITROX Wireless family of chips is designed for network switching systems targeting enterprises and hot-spot service providers.

The chips support the complete suite of security algorithms used in WLAN security today and for the emerging 802.11i standard, including AES, 3DES, and ARC4, as well as the various modes of each algorithm. In addition, the NITROX Wireless processors perform complete protocol processing of CCMP, IPsec, IKE, MPPE, and the functions of TKIP.

Cavium has a total of 10 wireless security chips. All of the chips are available in sample lots now, with full production scheduled for the late fourth quarter of 2004.

WLAN growth has been greatest in the small-office, home-office (SOHO) sector as well as in the hot-spot arena. Some believe that lack of strong security is limiting WLAN adoption in the enterprise. While security measures are now available in the form of the Wireless Equivalent Privacy (WEP) protocol, which is built into every 802.11a/b/g chip set, many believe that it's insufficient because it can be defeated.

The Wi-Fi Alliance recently introduced the Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA), which is a beefed up form of security that corrects for WEP's weaknesses. Some vendors are using this until the IEEE standards group completes its work on a highly revised and updated 802.11 standard. Known as 802.11i, this very secure standard is expected to be ratified later this year, with the first products available in 2004. The WPA standard is backward compatible with 802.11i.

Cavium Networks Inc.

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