Intersil Sampling Duette

Irvine, CA-based WLAN chip maker Intersil today announced that its first dual-band solution, the two-chip 802.11a/b/g PRISM Duette announced back in June, is now sampling to customers.

The Duette chipset supports the current 802.11a/5GHz standard, and the draft for IEEE 802.11g/2.4GHz, which is required to be backwards compatible with existing 802.11b/2.4GHz products. Any changes with the final 802.11g specification should be upgradeable in products using Duette.

Duette utilizes Intersil’s integrated Baseband Processor and Medium Access Controller (BBP/MAC) and direct down conversion (ZIF) architecture to eliminate the intermediate frequency (IF) stage found in most wireless radios, reducing manufacturing complexity and overall cost. This technology is also found in the company’s current PRISM 3 chip for 802.11b. The Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (OFDM)-based technology it uses to talk with both 2.4GHz and 5GHz WLAN devices is derived from Intersil’s Indigo 802.11a chipset. Indigo chips entered full production in September.

Intersil’s announcement claims that its initial testing shows Duette getting the same range as current 802.11b products and double the range of existing 802.11a products (almost all of which come with chipsets from rival Atheros). The company also reports three Duette getting times the throughput performance of the so-called “802.11b+” in products using Texas Instruments chips, which are rated at 22Mbps.

The Duette will be on display at Intersil’s suite next month at the Comdex 2002 show in Las Vegas. The company plans to demonstrate streaming high-definition television video signals using the wireless chip using 802.11g and 11a. Both are rated to handle 54Mbps speeds.

Intersil’s 802.11g-only (but 11b compatible) chipset, the PRISM GT, will likely start sampling with customers soon. GT will carry a lower price than Duette since it will have fewer components. Because it only uses the 2.4GHz radio band, it can be sold in more areas of the world — right now there are still issues with 802.11a distribution in areas of Europe and Asia. Both PRISM Duette and PRISM GT should be in full production by early 2003.

Intersil is being sued by Agere System for patent infringements on its various PRISM 802.11b chips, but Intersil says it continue to market products as usual while it defends itself.

Eric Griffith is the managing editor of 802.11 Planet.

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