Atheros Rolls One Die With 802.11g

Wireless semiconductor maker Atheros is advancing its wireless LAN
strategy with an all-in-one 802.11g chip.

The new chip, announced Monday, combines three main aspects of what Atheros calls a
quintessential 802.11g system — Media Access Controller (MAC), baseband
processor, and a 2.4 GHz radio — in a digital CMOS (complementary
metal-oxide semiconductor) design. The processor is the company’s
third-generation 802.11g silicon. Previously, Atheros launched a three-chip
combination in February 2003, and a two-chip .11g arrangement in June 2003.

The breakthrough to a one-die 11g, according to Atheros vice president of
marketing and business development Colin Macnab, is a combination of the
company’s proprietary silicon and noise-canceling techniques.

“The challenge with the radio and the digital section is that
the digital section creates a lot of noise in the same space that the radio
is trying to operate in,” Macnab told “It’s like
being at a company dinner and you are trying to hear the speaker, but the
table next to you is making too much noise. What we did is to cancel or
dampen the outside RF [radio frequency] noises on a standard digital CMOS.”

Macnab said the AR5005G is for client-side hardware, but the company does
have wider aspirations.

“What I do see this going into is the consumer space and I fully expect
you will be seeing our products in flat screen, DVDs, digital TVs, and
projectors — all parts of the digital home marketplace,” Macnab said.

Atheros said its other advantage is that its AR5005G supports the latest
wireless security standards, including Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA and WPA2)
and 802.11i Enhanced Security using the Advanced Encryption Standard. The
new chip also supports Cisco Compatible Extensions (CCX).

The company said it is planning on expanding its family of single-chip
802.11 “g” and combination “a-g” products throughout 2004. The family of
single chip products will also support extended range operation, XR, which
allows for connections at greater distances from the access point and parts
of the home where signals are otherwise too weak to connect.

As a wireless technology, 802.11g is the hottest thing around. More
comprehensive than standard Wi-Fi , the .11g standard
incorporates.11b’s Complementary Code Keying (CCK) to give it bit transfer
rates of 5.5 and 11Mbps in the 2.4Ghz band. In addition, 802.11g adopts
802.11a’s Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (OFDM) for 54Mbps
speeds but in the 2.4Ghz range.

According to IDC, 802.11g products accounted for about 20 percent of WLAN
shipments in the first quarter of 2003. Atheros said its single-band 802.11g
chip will be marketed to home and small office users and customers that want
to upgrade from the slower speeds of their current 802.11b

With its 802.11g products, the company is miles ahead of rivals such as Intel ,
which recently added
802.11g to its Centrino lineup and AMD , which flavored its Athlon XP mobile chips with the faster wireless technology.

Macnab said the AR5005G will ship for $12 in 10,000 unit quantities.

The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based startup, which has filed
to become a publicly traded company, said its AR5005G chip is currently sampling
with partners and should be ready for manufacturers in the second quarter of
this year.

Atheros’ hardware is found in PCs from Hewlett-Packard, IBM, NEC,
Sony and Toshiba as well as wireless LAN gear manufacturers D-Link, IO Data,
Linksys and Microsoft.

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