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IceFyre's 802.11a Power Consumption Solution

IceFyre Semiconductor, a fabless semiconductor startup founded in February, 2001, Monday announced its solution to the power consumption problems plaguing enterprise-level deployment of 802.11a and HiperLAN2 WLANs.

IceFyre claims to have achieved a 4x power savings over the nearest conventional problem while addressing the requirement for a cost effective CMOS solution. The company stated that its particular approach to Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiplexing (OFDM) modem design also delivers a data transfer rate of 54 Mbps with an effective range of 100 meters.

Their approach to OFDM modem design architecture addresses RF and baseband modem design problems at the physical layer (PHY). The result is significantly reduced power consumption and increased performance.

Specifically, IceFyre stated that it introduced three signal-processing engines into the baseband (PHY) and complementary radio frequency (RF) design. This reduces peak-to-average power ratio to 0 decibels at the RF output of the power amplifier, while delivering a standard 802.11a signal. The power amplifiers effectuate the elimination of the DC power consumption problems that hamper 5 GHz WLAN equipment integration in laptops and PDAs. IceFyre claimed that its solution, which consists of a media access controller (MAC), PHY, and RF, will consume less than 500 milliwatts at 1.8 volts (V), vs. 2.0 watts and higher at 3.3V with a conventional OFDM design.

OFDM requires that the RF layer must be designed to handle the high peak power, not the average peak power. Typically, traditional OFDM designs yield highly inefficient RF components, which should normally operate at 70 percent efficiency, but effectively yield only 10-20 percent efficiency. The results is highly increased power consumption.

Standard laptop batteries last approximately 4 hours. Use of a traditional 5 GHz WLAN component cuts the life of the battery to 2 hours. IceFyre claims that its solution reduces overall battery life by only 30 minutes to 3 hours, thirty minutes.

IceFyre explained that its solution reduces the complexity of the RF and mixed signal analog section by eliminating the need for such external components as the baseband filters, SAW filters, and low noise filters. The result can be a 30 percent savings on the bill of materials.

IceFyre stated that its design meets all 802.11a specs. It delivers packets at a data rate of 54 Mbps and transfers data at the 100- meter range.

Matthew Peretz is Managing Editor of