Agere, Infineon Partner to Make Chips

Allentown, PA-based Agere Systems has announced a new partnership with Infineon Technologies of Munich, Germany to jointly develop 802.11 chips and reference designs, as well as share intellectual property.

Dave Favreau, the Director of Wireless Products at Agere, says “One of the things we see in the industry as that wireless LAN market is growing rapidly and Wi-Fi is being proposed as a technology for a range of applications. Working with Infineon to get a common radio platform [for new products] lets us focus on adding value.”

Agere will provide multi-mode MAC chips and software drivers; Infineon will contribute technology based on its strength in dual-band radio frequency and power amplifiers from the GSM wireless side.

Favreau says there are three key elements to the announcement from the two companies. First, the two will work together to jointly develop a Physical Layer (PHY) technology for their future chipset. Second, they will cross license any patents that come from the partnership. Third, they have a mutual supply agreement. That means the two companies will provide manufacturing support to each other for all components.

“Some of the underlying technologies that will be brought to market in the deal have been in development for some time,” says Favreau.

“By combining the tech strengths, we’ll be able to do a full multi-mode 802.11 solution,” says Alvin Wong, VP of Wireless for North America at Infineon. “Not only can we increase the capacity from 11b to 11a/b/g, not only [can we] better performance, but we can bring price points down.”

Don’t look for a joint Infineon/Agere name on any products, however. Each company will individually market jointly created products

Announcements about chips or references designs for products other than WLAN clients and access points may happen later this year. In the meanwhile, the two expect to have chips for clients and access points sampling to customers by the second quarter of 2003.

“We think that will lead to volume shipments by the latter half of 2003,” says Favreau. “The time coincides well with the ratification of the 11g standard.” (802.11g will be a 54Mbps speed, 2.4GHz WLAN specification that will backwards compatible with the current 2.4GHz 802.11b that runs at 11Mbps).

“This partnership is a perfect fit to combine systems expertise. We think we’re going to reduce some of the key barriers of adoption and growth to high speed wireless.”

Eric Griffith is the managing editor of 802.11 Planet.

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