Chip Makers Give 802.11g More Speed

802.11g is here, and below you’ll find out what the chip companies that have
long supported the standard before it was a standard, have to say about it.
Most are already shipping finalized 802.11g support to customers, which isn’t
too surprising since most supported the 8.2 draft of 11g, which was just ratified
yesterday as the final specification with no technical changes.

What’s most interesting is that all four of major chipset vendors with 802.11g
products have embraced a standards-based speed enhancement called packet bursting
technology based on the upcoming 802.11e specification (some officially, others
not so officially). To increase throughput, the bursting allows for multiple
packets to travel over the airwaves without the extra overhead of header information,
thus increasing network speed.

Not everyone has necessarily implemented their support of bursting in the same
way, so it’s impossible to say yet if they’ll interoperate with the extra throughput.
Probably not. But the 802.11e specification takes place in the MAC layer and thus it will be common to the Physical Layer (PHY) of all
802.11 wireless LAN technologies when it’s finalized and adopted. Therefore,
802.11e/packet bursting can be used in 802.11g, or b, or a.

Intersil, of course, "applauds final
approval" of 802.11g (as if anyone is going to say it was a bad thing).
Earlier this week the company said that among the vendors making products based
on their PRISM GT (11g/b) chip are Corega, D-Link, Fujitsu Siemens Computers,
I/O DATA, Linksys, Netgear, and SMC Networks — all of which have previously
been provided drivers supporting the 8.2 draft. Those drivers also supported
Intersil’s Nitro speed enhancement upgrade. When the vendors release those upgrades
is up to them — Netgear’s Intersil based 11g products will have upgrades available
today, because, as Netgear spokesperson put it, Intersil was early providing
them code.

Texas Instruments (TI)
has held off shipping much in the way of 802.11g chipsets, waiting instead for
the standard to be final. Now that it is, the company says its TNETW1130 802.11g
will be appearing in products from Netgear, Samsung, Sitecom, SMC Networks,
US Robotics, Alpha Networks, AMIT, AboCom Systems, ASUSTeK, Global Sun Tech,
Mototech, SerComm and Z-Comand. (US Robotics announced
with the chip last week, but they have not shipped yet.) The TNETW1130
will support standard 802.11g and what TI is calling "802.11g+," which
will feature a turbo mode to increase speed — again, based on 802.11e but with
"multiple enhancements" to lower overhead on the network, according
to a TI spokesperson.

Atheros, like the rest, "strongly
endorses" 802.11g’s ratification. Its chips are featured in products from
D-Link, Netgear, and Proxim, as well as PC OEMs HP, IBM, NEC, and Toshiba. The
company’s AR5002 line of 802.11g/b and 802.11a/b/g products all support the
finalized standard since they also supported draft 8.2. The company says in
July it will announce 40 new design wins with support for 11g on its third
generation chips. Atheros also has some speed boosts with its recently announced
"Super G" and "Super A/G" which combine everything from
the bursting to compression to modulation tweaks. Atheros also recently became
the first company to earn the Microsoft Designed for Windows XP Logo Program
certification for its software, which supports the final version of 802.11g
on the company’s AR5001X+ and new AR5002X chips.

Broadcom, the big winner in the 802.11g
space long before the specifiation was final (because of deals with big sellers
like Apple, Buffalo Technology, and Linksys, as well as providing 11g to laptop
makers HP, Dell, Fujitsu, and Gateway for embedding) — in fact, they claim
to have their 54g-branded chips in 93% of all the existing 802.11g products
sold to date — has been shipping drivers supporting the 8.2 draft for a while,
so its vendors should be able to offer finalized 802.11g software soon.

In fact, the 11g product line from Belkin,
based on the Broadcom 54g, already has the final Broadcom 11g driver in
place, including Wi-Fi Protected Access and a "Turbo" mode. Buffalo Technology also released news today
saying its AirStation G54 products would have a Turbo mode, based on "standards-based
Xpress technology, also known as frame bursting," which a Buffalo spokesperson
confirms is the name of the technology provided through the Broadcom 54g chipset.
Buffalo is also introducing hotspot features in the AirStation products, including
WPA with RADIUS authentication support, a privacy separator, and control over
output power.

Agere has told 802.11 Planet that its 802.11g
chips, which have not shipped yet since it was waiting for the final ratification,
will also use 802.11e-based speed and Quality of Service boosts.

Other chip makers that have previously announced 802.11g products — usually
as part of a dual-mode solution with 802.11a — to come include Engim, Synad, and Marvell.

Other popular vendors who’ve proclaimed their support for 802.11g via
upgrades are Linksys and D-Link, but they’ve made no specific word on when those
upgrades will be available.

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