Sunday, October 26, 2008

Atheros Targets 802.11g Upgrades with "Align" 802.11n Silicon

Atheros Communications introduced its new "Align" product line based on the IEEE draft 802.11n 1-stream specification. The new silicon provides a low-cost solution for enabling Wi-Fi devices that deliver performance enhancements over the existing 802.11g technology, at comparable price points. Align solutions are also forward compatible to higher-performance, multi-stream, MIMO-based 802.11n. Target applications include low-cost notebook, netbook, home networking and consumer electronics.

The Atheros Align portfolio is positioned for low-cost Wi-Fi connectivity, while the company's XSPAN family (launched in 2006) offers higher-performance 2-stream, MIMO-enabled 802.11n connectivity at up to 300 Mbps PHY rates per band.

Atheros' Align solutions deliver up to 150 Mbps PHY rates, and leverage the efficiencies of the 802.11n media access control (MAC) technology to achieve actual throughput levels up to five times that of legacy 802.11g. Atheros said the higher throughput of 1-stream products improves network efficiency by occupying the wireless channel for shorter periods than slower 11g devices -- reducing congestion and increasing capacity for additional wireless devices. Align products employ optional features of the 11n specification and Atheros' advanced radio design techniques, to effectively double the wireless coverage versus legacy WLAN solutions.

The Atheros AR9285 single-chip PCI Express (PCIe) solution is designed for sub-$500 notebook and netbook products. The single chip integrates the MAC/baseband and radio transceiver, as well as the power amplifier, low noise amplifiers and antenna switch -- the entire RF front-end -- providing a complete WLAN solution.

The Atheros Align AR9002AP-1S chipset for home networking targets value-priced wireless routing equipment, with increased capacity and range over legacy 802.11g. The chipset consists of the AR9285 1-stream MAC/BB/radio and the new Atheros AR7240 network processor System-on-Chip (SOC) which features advanced power management and a network processor with integrated 5-port Fast Ethernet switch -- based on the company's ETHOS technology. The AR7240 provides 400 MHz of processing power, ample to support 1-stream solutions as well as higher-performance, 2-stream, MIMO radio designs. The Atheros network processor is specifically engineered to optimize wireless performance by looking beyond clock speed and focusing on overall system efficiency. The AR7240 features a MIPS32 24K(R) processor core, 64KB of instruction memory cache up to four times that offered by competitor NPUs, and a high speed 16-bit Double-Data-Rate (DDR) memory interface to dramatically increase raw memory speed.

The Atheros AR9271 single-chip USB solution provides enhanced Wi-Fi performance and value for home gateways, set-top boxes, gaming consoles, printers and a variety of other embedded wireless products. The single chip features a new architecture that integrates both a CPU and memory to run more of the wireless LAN function on-chip.

The AR9002AP-1S chipset for AP/Routers and AR9285 single chip for PCs are sampling now. The AR9271 embedded USB solution will begin sampling in late Q4 2008.

See also