Small Chips for Small Products

Earlier this week, many Wi-Fi silicon makers announced plans to put their 802.11 support into ever smaller products.

Conexant of Newport Beach, California, which inherited the Wi-Fi chip business started by Intersil, is working with consumer electronics giant Sharp. Together, the two companies say they have created the “world’s smallest and lowest standby power wireless local area network (WLAN) module” supporting 802.11b/g. The module is specifically meant to go in phone handsets supporting fixed/mobile convergence (FMC), the popular term for the dual support of cellular and Wi-Fi based voice and data communications.

The module uses Sharp’s micro-packaging tech with the Conexant CX3110X integrated circuit (IC). It measures 100 mm square and uses Conexant’s PowerSave function to squeeze out 600 minutes of talk time and 300 hours in standby mode.

Marvell is also not slouching in the mobile Wi-Fi space. The Santa Clara, California-based silicon company said this week it is working closely with Intel to make sure its Wi-Fi works with the Intel third-generation XScale architecture (formerly called Monahans) and the new Ultra Mobile PC (UMPC) architecture (which co-developer Microsoft called by the code name of Origami until it was officially announced this week).

The XScale with Marvell Wi-Fi will be found in smaller devices like phones and PDAs, while the UMPCs will work with the Marvell 88W8686  on the new portable tablet-like platform. Marvell says its latest chips measure 50 millimeters square.

Finally, another module supporting 802.11b/g  in mobile devices is on the way, this one from Socket Communications. It’s targeted at small devices running Windows Mobile OSes, Linux and even Real-Time Operating Systems (RTOSes) like ThreadX, VxWorks, ulTRON and Mobilinux.

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