Don't Forget Your 11a!

By Eric Griffith

February 18, 2003

It might seem a little late, but a number of companies have made recent announcements committing to a world of low-interference, high-speed Wi-Fi on the 11a side.

It might seem a little late to come to the Wi-Fi party with 802.11a products -- and might seem like a waste of time now that the 2.4GHz 802.11g is here -- but a number of companies have made recent announcements committing to a world of low-interference, high-speed Wi-Fi on the 11a side.

First up, IceFyre Semiconductor of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, today announced that it has begun sampling of its SureFyre 802.11a integrated circuit family, also known as the ICE5350 802.11a PHY IC. The company has been working on the chip since late 2001 and hope to hit a market for low-power consumption in Wi-Fi client devices -- they claim the chips pulls 75% less juice than other chips.

This weekend, Stepmind, a three-year-old company from France, announced this year it would ship a dual-mode 802.11a/HiperLAN2 product. HiperLAN2 is a wireless solution found throughout Europe -- the company says in its staying with HiperLAN2 support due to its "strong, reliable, flexible and versatile" multimedia support. The company's baseband chip architecture is made to integrate with 802.11b and even cellular/2.5G solutions from Stepmind. It will support interfaces such as CardBus and Compact Flash NICs, access points, even IDE controllers for a wireless hard disk. They plan to introduce the chipset mid-year.

Envara is one company that sees the 802.11g future -- it has introduced samples this week of the 802.11g-only WiND512 -- but it doesn't ignore the 802.11a side, as it releases samples of the 802.11abg combo set called WiND502. The chipsets share a common MAC/baseband (medium access controller) architecture.

According to Paul Nurflus, vice president of sales and marketing at Envara, "In this chip you have the OFDM you need for G and A/G. The MAC/baseband chip is the same [in both chipsets] -- same firmware and drivers. We can put G or A/G and customers only need to assemble the 5GHz component or not. The layout is common to both. The migration is minimal as possible, with one hardware and one software investment, they can get started.

The company, with headquarters in Israel and Redwood City, CA, expects to sell to mainly Asia Pacific customers. They'll hit mass production of the chips in June.

Finally, Magis Networks, which specializes in wireless chips that support the highest Quality of Service (QoS) they can get out of video on a WLAN, has managed a coup for the week: They've been granted several patents from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for their work with antennas and WLAN security specifically in the 5 GHz band using the company's Air5 chipsets, which are based on 802.11a, HiperLAN2, and wireless 1394.. The company recently demonstrated wireless TV at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas,

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