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.