Atheros Ships Single Chip

By Eric Griffith

April 26, 2004

The company's third-generation Wi-Fi solution combines all the important parts in one and is now available in bulk; D-Link will be the first to use it.

Atheros Communications of Sunnyvale, Calif., today announced that its AR5005G chip -- which combines the major functions of a 802.11g chipset into a single piece of silicon -- is now shipping.

The CMOS (complementary metal-oxide semiconductor) based AR5005G contains the baseband, Media access Controller (MAC), a radio running in the 2.4GHz band, and other discrete chips into one unit. The chip was sampled to customers in January.

The processor is the company's third-generation 802.11g silicon. Previously, Atheros launched a three-chip combination in February 2003, and a two-chip .11g arrangement in June 2003. The chip will support WPA and the future WPA2/802.11i security, AES encryption, and Cisco Compatible Extensions (CCX).

A second version of the chip, the AR5005GS, will ship with Atheros's proprietary speed boost (called Super G). Both the AR5005G and AR5005GS will support Atheros's range extension technology (called XR) on board. Both Super G and XR have been available before, but sometimes required upgrades form the vendor. Colin Macnab, vice president of marketing and business development at Atheros, says this is the first product the company has launched where the proprietary enhancement is ready for the driver set from the outset.

D-Link is the first company to get a design win to use the AR5005G. D-Link wouldn't comment yet on whether they'll integrate the chip into existing products or launch a new product line around the chipset.

Atheros also was part of an announcement today by Fujitsu, which is releasing new laptops for the Japanese market that will incorporate Super G and Super AG (for dual-band networks with 802.11a/g). These laptops do not use the AR5005G single chip -- Macnab says the nature of the PC OEM product cycle keeps them a generation behind the retail Wi-Fi producers.

The Super G and AG speed boosts are bigger news in the Japanese market, says Macnab, where "the Super A/G logo is on boxes at both ends [of the network]... we're on most of the retail outlet shelves in Japan with almost all companies. As a result, customers identify with it and they know they have hotspots that use it."

Fujitsu's FMV-BIBLO LOOX T50H Series with built in Atheros-based Wi-Fi is available now. Atheros' hardware is found in PCs from Hewlett-Packard, IBM, NEC, Sony and Toshiba as well as wireless LAN gear manufacturers Netgear, IO Data, Linksys and Microsoft.

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