802.11g Speed Boost Now Available
October 15, 2003
UPDATE: Products supporting the Super G speed boost promised months ago by chipmaker Atheros are out: Netgear started a new product line and D-Link is offering it as a free upgrade. But will Super G interoperate between products?
Wi-Fi products are now available with support for the Super G speed boost promised months ago by Atheros Communications, the chipset maker behind many of the 802.11a, 802.11g, and dual-band wireless LAN products available today. In fact, one company, D-Link of Irvine, Calif., is providing the speed boost as a free upgrade.
Netgear was first to ship products based on Super G technology, in a new product line: the WG511T PC Card and WGT624 Router. D-Link, however, is not creating a new product line. The company is offering a free firmware upgrade to existing customers using its AirPlus Xtreme G line of products.
The D-Link products getting the upgrade are the Xtreme G DI-624 Wireless Router with 4-port switch; the Xtreme G DWL-G650 Wireless CardBus Adapter; Xtreme G DWL-G520 Wireless PCI Adapter; the DWL-G810 Wireless to Ethernet Bridge; and the Xtreme G DWL-2000AP Wireless Access Point.
A small section of Xtreme G owners should be careful; the first iteration of Xtreme G products used pre-standard 802.11g chips from Intersil. D-Link says this only impacts about 2 percent of the Xtreme G products they shipped. Those products are not eligible for an upgrade, though D-Link uses the same model numbers (the Intersil routers are marked as A1). D-Link has used the DI-624 model on three iterations of products, for example -- the latest sports a single antenna. The firmware downloadable at support.dlink.com is listed as "15x mode (Super G)."
D-Link and Netgear both say their support of Super G runs at "108Mbps," but Atheros spokesperson Greg Wood says that comes from vendors' marketing desire to "use the physical data rate capability rather than the physical throughput" numbers. Essentially, the 108 is just a doubling of the physical data rate of standard 802.11g, which is 54Mbps. (Atheros itself has stated since announcing Super G that it would run at 90Mbps; Wood claims the company saw actual throughput at that speed when showing the technology on the floor of the last Networld+Interop show.)
D-Link's internal tests of Xtreme G products show a real-world 60Mbps throughput when transfering text data (54Mbps real-world with mixed format data).
D-Link did its own tweaks on the Super G technology. Sheung Li, product line manager for Atheros, confirms that "Partners have the option of tuning particular Super G and Super A/G profiles and parameters to the type of traffic they support, e.g., video, voice, enterprise data, DSL/CM data."
Any Super G products should, in theory, work together at the faster rate, but Netgear and D-Link will only attest to the products working within their own brand name families. D-Link says that Netgear's products in Super G mode will only work with other Netgear products in the same mode. Netgear was not available for comment.
Super G and A/G use a mixture of technology tweaks and pre-standard technology (based on 802.11e and 802.11n standards still in the draft stage) to get aspeed boost. Those technologies include compression, packet bursting, fast frames, and bonding of multiple channels. Similar speed boost technology is available from chip makers like GlobespanVirata, which bought Intersil's WLAN product line (they call theirs PRISM Nitro), Broadcom (called Xpress), and Texas Instruments.
In August, D-Link announced a new set of products to be called AirPlus Xtreme G+ that would be based on TI chips and run at 30Mbps. These products are primarily sold overseas, according to D-Link.
Both companies recently announced new USB 2.0 adapters supporting 802.11g, but neither USB product is included in the list of those running at Super G speeds.