Intersil Intros Wireless System-on-a-Chip

By Eric Griffith

April 10, 2003

The companies 'WiSOC' is meant to complement its 802.11a and 11g chipsets, replacing the need for network processors in wireless routers and access points.

Milpitas, CA-based semiconductor maker Intersil Corp. today announced the ISL3893 WiSOC, an ARM9 microprocessor for use in access points and routers with the PRISM GT chipset for draft 802.11g support or the PRISM Duette chipset for dual-band 802.11a/b/g.

The WiSOC is meant to do away with need for a separate network processor in the access point, giving equipment manufacturers a lower bill of materials cost on products.

In the company's release, Larry Ciaccia, vice president and general manager of Intersil's Wireless Networking Product Group claims the WiSOC provides one and a half times better data rates within 100 foot range when used with the PRISM chips, and twice the speed between 100 and 200 feet.

The WiSOC comes with support for the protection mechanisms required by the IEEE's 802.11g Task Group's latest draft of the 11g standard (version 7.1). 802.11g will not be ratified by the IEEE until sometime this summer.

Security-wise, the chip will have build in support for Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) and Advanced Encryption System (AES); the latter will be required for future upgrades to the 802.11i security standard expected toward the end of the year. WPA is the interim step to 802.11i. 802.1X authentication is also supported.

Intersil is also providing a reference design (ISL39300A) that shows single or multiple port Ethernet connections and would show OEMs how to build a single 802.11a/g product, or use a second radio to get simultaneous 802.11a/b/g signals. The design includes Power over Ethernet (PoE) for easier installation for enterprise or hotspot hardware and a small-footprint uClinux operating system, customizable with Intersil's development kit.

Further innovations will include using Inter-Access Point Protocol (IAPP) for transparent channel-switching and roaming, Wireless Distribution System (WDS) to have access points talk wirelessly so no connection to the wired network is needed on all access points, and the upcoming 802.11d standard for to add features (and restrictions) to allow WLAN products to operate in all countries.



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