Chip Makers Give 802.11g More Speed

By Eric Griffith

June 13, 2003

802.11g is official, the chip makers are happy, and what's more, they're all giving the 54Mbps technology a standards-based kick in the pants to increase throughput.

802.11g is here, and below you'll find out what the chip companies that have long supported the standard before it was a standard, have to say about it. Most are already shipping finalized 802.11g support to customers, which isn't too surprising since most supported the 8.2 draft of 11g, which was just ratified yesterday as the final specification with no technical changes.

What's most interesting is that all four of major chipset vendors with 802.11g products have embraced a standards-based speed enhancement called packet bursting technology based on the upcoming 802.11e specification (some officially, others not so officially). To increase throughput, the bursting allows for multiple packets to travel over the airwaves without the extra overhead of header information, thus increasing network speed.

Not everyone has necessarily implemented their support of bursting in the same way, so it's impossible to say yet if they'll interoperate with the extra throughput. Probably not. But the 802.11e specification takes place in the MAC layer and thus it will be common to the Physical Layer (PHY) of all 802.11 wireless LAN technologies when it's finalized and adopted. Therefore, 802.11e/packet bursting can be used in 802.11g, or b, or a.

Intersil, of course, "applauds final approval" of 802.11g (as if anyone is going to say it was a bad thing). Earlier this week the company said that among the vendors making products based on their PRISM GT (11g/b) chip are Corega, D-Link, Fujitsu Siemens Computers, I/O DATA, Linksys, Netgear, and SMC Networks -- all of which have previously been provided drivers supporting the 8.2 draft. Those drivers also supported Intersil's Nitro speed enhancement upgrade. When the vendors release those upgrades is up to them -- Netgear's Intersil based 11g products will have upgrades available today, because, as Netgear spokesperson put it, Intersil was early providing them code.

Texas Instruments (TI) has held off shipping much in the way of 802.11g chipsets, waiting instead for the standard to be final. Now that it is, the company says its TNETW1130 802.11g will be appearing in products from Netgear, Samsung, Sitecom, SMC Networks, US Robotics, Alpha Networks, AMIT, AboCom Systems, ASUSTeK, Global Sun Tech, Mototech, SerComm and Z-Comand. (US Robotics announced products with the chip last week, but they have not shipped yet.) The TNETW1130 will support standard 802.11g and what TI is calling "802.11g+," which will feature a turbo mode to increase speed -- again, based on 802.11e but with "multiple enhancements" to lower overhead on the network, according to a TI spokesperson.

Atheros, like the rest, "strongly endorses" 802.11g's ratification. Its chips are featured in products from D-Link, Netgear, and Proxim, as well as PC OEMs HP, IBM, NEC, and Toshiba. The company's AR5002 line of 802.11g/b and 802.11a/b/g products all support the finalized standard since they also supported draft 8.2. The company says in July it will announce 40 new design wins with support for 11g on its third generation chips. Atheros also has some speed boosts with its recently announced "Super G" and "Super A/G" which combine everything from the bursting to compression to modulation tweaks. Atheros also recently became the first company to earn the Microsoft Designed for Windows XP Logo Program certification for its software, which supports the final version of 802.11g on the company's AR5001X+ and new AR5002X chips.

Broadcom, the big winner in the 802.11g space long before the specifiation was final (because of deals with big sellers like Apple, Buffalo Technology, and Linksys, as well as providing 11g to laptop makers HP, Dell, Fujitsu, and Gateway for embedding) -- in fact, they claim to have their 54g-branded chips in 93% of all the existing 802.11g products sold to date -- has been shipping drivers supporting the 8.2 draft for a while, so its vendors should be able to offer finalized 802.11g software soon.

In fact, the 11g product line from Belkin, based on the Broadcom 54g, already has the final Broadcom 11g driver in place, including Wi-Fi Protected Access and a "Turbo" mode. Buffalo Technology also released news today saying its AirStation G54 products would have a Turbo mode, based on "standards-based Xpress technology, also known as frame bursting," which a Buffalo spokesperson confirms is the name of the technology provided through the Broadcom 54g chipset. Buffalo is also introducing hotspot features in the AirStation products, including WPA with RADIUS authentication support, a privacy separator, and control over output power.

Agere has told 802.11 Planet that its 802.11g chips, which have not shipped yet since it was waiting for the final ratification, will also use 802.11e-based speed and Quality of Service boosts.

Other chip makers that have previously announced 802.11g products -- usually as part of a dual-mode solution with 802.11a -- to come include Engim, Synad, and Marvell.

Other popular vendors who've proclaimed their support for 802.11g via upgrades are Linksys and D-Link, but they've made no specific word on when those upgrades will be available.

Originally published on .

Comment and Contribute
(Maximum characters: 1200). You have
characters left.