The rollout of 802.11 wireless local-area network (WLAN) chips continues at a frantic pace as semiconductor companies compete for an ever-expanding market.
Atheros Communications joins this throng by announcing its third generation of products. According to product line manager Shuenge Li, Atheros chips are already built into over 200 Wi-Fi products. With seven new Wi-Fi chips on the docket, that trend should continue.
The company introduced its first-generation 802.11a chips several years ago. Last year, it added the second generation, which covers the 11a and 11b standards. The third generation of chips fully covers the 11a/b/g standards. Three of the new chips address client applications. Four others provide options for access-point applications.
The first of the three client-application-oriented chips, the AR5002X, supports full a/b/g coverage for laptops, PDAs, and other client devices. The value-priced AR5002G only covers the b and g standards. The AR5002A is an 11a device with full quality-of-service (QoS) for video, audio, and voice applications.
Among the access-point chips, the dual-band, enterprise-class AR5002AP-2X offers full simultaneous coverage of both a and b/g clients. The AR5002AP-X targets access points that emphasize b/g service, but with an upgrade path to a. The AR500-2AP-G supports b/g service at low cost for home gateways. Finally, the AR5002AP-A is an 11a-only access point chip designed for consumer electronics applications.
Two key features define these new chips. First, they offer broad frequency coverage, making them useful in worldwide applications. In fact, European and Asian frequency bands are fully covered. Second, the chips include full encryption. Both Temporal Key Integrity Protocol (TKIP) and the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) are implemented in full hardware on-chip, meaning that there's no data rate slowdown due to firm-ware encryption (a common occurrence in other chips). On top of that, the chips implement Atheros' Super G and Super A/G capabilities to deliver up to 90-Mbit/s TCP/IP throughput for 11a/g applications. Using two channels plus compression, the chips can achieve a data rate up to 108 Mbits/s in a/g applications.
The chips are in full production now. For prices and more details, contact the company.