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Volume Shipments of the Atheros AR5000 802.11a WLAN Chipset Underway

The new Atheros AR5000 802.11a chipset has begun shipping in volume, according to information released yesterday by the company. The chipset is targeted towards companies developing WLAN solutions based on the 5-GHz, IEEE 802.11a standards.

Proxim, Intermec, Card Access, TDK, and others have announced plans to develop WLAN solutions based on the new chipset. Atheros estimated that actual products based on the chipset should begin to appear towards the end of this year.

Technical specifications:(as released by Atheros)
  • Complete "Radio-on-a-Chip" (RoC) and integrated MAC/baseband processor
  • Data rates up to 54 megabit per second (Mbps) compliant with the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers' (IEEE) 802.11a 5GHz wireless LAN standard.
  • Can also provide speeds up to 72 Mbps in Atheros Turbo Mode(TM).
  • Includes the AR5110 Radio-on-a-Chip (RoC) and AR5210 MAC/Baseband Processor
  • Provides full 128-bit WEP encryption and support for Dynamic Key Exchange without performance degradation
  • Includes Quality of Service (QoS) support for video distribution and other multimedia applications
  • Uses mainstream, standard-process 0.25-micron digital CMOS

Technical Architecture:
The AR5110 is an all-CMOS single-chip radio with integrated power amplifier and low-noise amplifier. The fully integrated single-chip transceiver eliminates the need for external voltage-controlled oscillators, surface acoustic wave (SAW) intermediate frequency filters and other costly board components. The transmitter combines baseband in-phase (I) and quadrature (Q) signals, up-converts them to the desired 5GHz frequency channel, and drives the RF signal off-chip through the integrated power amplifier. The AR5110 operates in the 5.15 to 5.25 GHz indoor and 5.25 to 5.35 GHz indoor/outdoor U-NII frequency bands. The chip's frequency synthesizer supports the frequency channels defined by the IEEE 802.11a (USA) and MMAC (Japan) standards. The transceiver also supports Atheros Turbo Mode(TM), which increases the overall data rate to 72 Mbps by encoding pairs of channels into aggregated data streams.

The AR5210 MAC/Baseband Processor integrates media access control (MAC) logic, baseband processing functions, a PCI/MiniPCI/CardBus host interface, and analog-to-digital and digital-to-analog converters. It operates without external RAM or flash memory and implements an OFDM baseband processor supporting all IEEE 802.11a mandatory and optional data rates using Binary Phase Shift Keying (BPSK), Quadrature Phase Shift Keying (QPSK), 16 QAM and 64 QAM modulation schemes. Additional features include forward error correction coding, signal detection, automatic gain control, frequency offset estimation, symbol timing and channel estimation. The AR5210 also performs receive and transmit filtering, frame encryption/decryption, and error recovery operations as defined by the IEEE 802.11a standard.

Atheros stated that the AR5000 is shipping for under $35 in OEM quantities of 100,000 units.

Matthew Peretz is Managing Editor of