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Airgo Samples 3rd-Gen MIMO

Third time's the charm? Actually, Airgo Networks has had lots of luck selling its first generation of True MIMO chips, and isn't doing badly with its less expensive second generation, in use with vendors like Belkin and Linksys, and even in Samsung laptops. That's 4 million chips in less than a year. So what does the new third gen of True MIMO (Multiple Input, Multiple Output) have to offer?

The company says the chips have a tested data rate of 240 Megabits per second (Mbps). That translates to a real-world throughput of over 100Mbps.

Dave Borison, director of product management at Airgo, calls it a "major breakthrough."

"This changes the game -- now, in business, you don't have to think about spending tens of thousands of dollars with wires," says Borison. He believes the better throughput can help push next-generation use of wireless in the home as well, where product vendors and service providers go for the triple play: video and voice over wireless along with data.

Borison admits that the changes that such speeds in wireless will enable won't happen overnight, but says, "In coming years, they'll think twice about [wires first]." This he blames on the compromise that IT managers have had to make for speed, since standard 802.11a and 11g have data rates of only 54Mbps.

"Wireless was a complement to wired," Borison says. "Now it's another option."

Borison also confirms that the price of the new chips will not go up, but will continue to drop. The overall bill of materials in the chipset has been reduced by 15 percent, he says, allowing that savings to go on to customers. Still, he doesn't expect any $39 True MIMO CardBus cards anytime soon, as the price will stay higher than standard 11g products, in exchange for the premium speed.

The latest chips use what Airgo calls Adaptive Channel Expansion, allowing for use of 20MHz or wider 40MHz channels. Backward compatibility is retained with legacy 802.11a/g/b products.

Airgo's 3rd-gen True MIMO won't be in products until the end of the year.