New 802.11a Chips Ship

Almost a year ago, San Jose, CA-based Resonext Communications announced 802.11a-based
RN5200 chipsets, one set for access points and another for clients. Now the
silicon has cleared all the hurdles of standards stress tests with the JEDEC
Solid State Technology Association
and they are in full production.

Each CMOS-based set two-chip combination works
in only the 5.15-5.35GHz UNII bands (plus the 4.9-5.1GHz Japan bands). The access
point chip set — RN5200AP, priced at $42 in volume — consists of the RN5205
RF chip and the RN5202 baseband/MAC integrated circuit (IC). The chips can handle
64MB of external addressable memory and supports memory like FLASH, SDRAM, EEPROM,
and others. It can interface with external Ethernet on the PHY layer and a RS232
port for configuration.

The client chip set — RN5200C, priced at $35 in volume — is comprised of
the RN5205 RF transceiver and RN5201 baseband/MAC IC. It works in PC Cards,
PCI Cards, or miniPCI interfaces. Like the access point chips, it supports 802.11i
security mechanisms
(based on the current IEEE draft for 802.11i).

Resonext has a PC Card reference design for OEMs
who want to get product started fast on product production. According to Robert
Fan, VP of Marketing at Resonext, "We’re looking
into other designs, and other form factors, but many of our customers take the
PC Card design and generate new form factors of their own." Currently,
the company’s only announced
customer
is Taiyo Yuden of Japan.

The RN5200 chips support the current drafts for 802.11e Quality of Service
(QoS) for making sure high priority network video and audio get to their destination
first, and 802.11h for dynamic channel selection (DCS) and transmit power control
(TPC) for preventing interference with devices operating in the 5GHz band, especially
in Europe where the 5GHz HiperLAN/2
is big.

The products use a proprietary AccuChannel equalization technology to counteract
multi-path and signal attenuation delays, extending the range of the WLAN by
up to 32% according to Resonext. They say it can reduce the need for extra access
points, but of course it requires end to end use of Resonext RN5200 based products.
Other benefits of using RN5200 chips throughout an installation include 802.1X,
TKIP, AES encryption and RC4 encryption when using 40- and 128-bit WEP. The
baseband/MAC chip uses a Flexible Media Access Controller architecture that
is programmable by OEM customers.

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