Electronic Design

MIMO WLAN Chip Set Brings Wireless HDTV To The Home

Now that we've wirelessly networked the enterprise, public spaces, and PCs at home, the next frontier is home entertainment. Video and audio can be streamed at a reasonable price, so look for consumers to begin eliminating the wires that connect their plasma/LCD TVs and surroundsound audio systems. Atheros Communications' AR5005VA chip set makes these wireless connections a snap.

Atheros' 802.11a/b/g chip sets are used in laptops, PCs, home gateways, and access points worldwide. The AR5005VA, which extends the technology, lets consumers eliminate cables between TV sets and set-top boxes, DVD players, and other video sources. The chip set integrates standard 802.11a/b/g technology with multiple-input, multiple-output (MIMO) radios to achieve the 6- to 8-Mbit/s and 19- to 24-Mbit/s rates needed for DVD and HDTV links, respectively, over a 6000-ft2 area.

Using the 802.11e quality-of-service (QoS) standard, the chip set lets users view and organize PC-based photos and videos; play audio sources such as MP3, AAC, and ATRAC files; and play video files from Windows Media Center devices. It also eliminates the unsightly signal cables that connect wall-mounted flat-screen TVs. And, its built-in universal infrared (IR) modulator and repeater can forward the consumer's IR control signals to a source device, such as a DVD player or set-top box.

The chip set includes a MIPS R4000 32-bit RISC processor, which supports digital-rights management technology and MPEG encapsulation into other protocols as specified by the Digital Living Networking Alliance. With this capability, system designers can treat the wireless interface as a link that's as simple and secure as a wired connection.

The AR5005VA's MIMO smart antenna technology achieves the range and robustness high-speed wireless links require. Two separate radios within the chip set support up to four antennas--two for transmit and two for receive (see the figure). The chip set integrates the multiple orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (OFDM) baseband processors that combine the signals and improve overall signal strength and quality. The chip sets' beamforming transmitters provide a 5- to 7-dB increase in system gain. Using the receive-combining technology, another 5-dB gain is possible. The combined 10-dB gain infuses the speed, reliability, and range needed in a home system.

The AR5005VA chip set is available in two- and four-antenna versions. The four-antenna variety costs $19 in 10,000-unit lots. Sample quantities are available now, with full production in late fall.

Atheros Communications

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