PANs + WLANs = Dual Mode Blue802

Wireless LAN chip maker Intersil of Irvine, CA, has teamed with Bluetooth chip maker Silicon Wave of San Diego to create a reference design for a mini-PCI card that mixes Bluetooth and 802.11b wireless. The technology used makes the standards compatible, letting wireless products work on both the local area network (LAN) and the personal area network (PAN).

The technology behind it is called Blue802, a MAC layer communications interface transparent to the user. It mixes Intersil’s PRISM 3 chip set and Silicon Wave’s SiW1700 series. Blue802 will allow for simultaneously use of the two wireless technologies (such as printing via Bluetooth while accessing the server via Wi-Fi) without interference they’ve had in the past.

The reference design has both the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth radios sharing the same antennas, PCB and host interface, which should save material costs. Current Wi-Fi notebook designs won’t have to change to use Blue802; it’s based on a standard Type 3A mini-PCI card currently in use. The design is compatible with Windows XP Wireless Architecture. The expected price is under $50.

Notebooks using the Blue802 technology should start appearing later in 2002.

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