Texas Instruments defines its DaVinci technology as “a collection of DSP-based system solution components tailored for efficient and compelling digital video.” Which is great, if consumer electronics (CE) products using it can easily connect to a source for that video. TI’s plan to help with that is to make it easier for manufacturers to stick in some Wi-Fi.
The company’s new CE WLAN Developer Kit, version 1.0, will make integration of 802.11b/g into such devices a snap.
Michael VanBreda, Market Manager for EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Asia) in TI’s residential gateway business unit, says the market is moving way beyond just infrastructure for WLANs going on the Internet. “We see the need to connect devices in the home growing — devices both stationary and portable. It’s important to distinguish them and customize the wireless LAN solutions for each,” he says.
The new kit focuses on the stationary units that use the DaVinci processors, and tools — usually set-top boxes, media adapters and personal video recorders — that can benefit from adding Wi-Fi connections.
While the kit won’t cover anything related to the high-speed 802.11n specification still on the table for debate with the IEEE (but destined for early “pre-N” products soon), the 802.11b/g focus of the kit will include TI’s G++. The company announced this software for its chips back in November of 2006. They say it can provide twice the range and 50 percent better throughput than standard 54Mbps 802.11g. G++ forces the hardware to use a higher power output, improves sensitivity, and avoids interference from items like cordless phones and microwaves on the same frequency.
The kit will contain the full hardware reference design that is already certified with both the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Wi-Fi Alliance, the TNETW1350a/TNETW3422/28 which combines the media access controller (MAC) and baseband processor with 2.4GHz radios, and the software driver that supports Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) and WPA2 and quality of service, including Windows Multimedia (WMM) and Enhanced Distributed Channel Access (EDCA), both parts of the 802.11e specification for Quality of Service.
TI will eventually follow this kit with one for portable CE devices.
“Gone are the days where [a vendor like TI] makes a chip, throws them over the wall, and expects customers to develop a product,” says VanBreda. He says the chip makers are taking on the role of approaching the market with development platforms and reference designs, something he says they’ve done successfully at TI with cable and DSL broadband markets, and now plan to follow with consumer WLAN platforms. “In the end, we provide the heavy lifting… so customers can develop products much quicker,” he says.