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Atheros ships first final-spec 802.11g chip

Rolls out third-gen Wi-Fi silicon

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The Register's Wireless LAN Channel

WLAN chip maker Atheros today became the first to market with 802.11g product based on the final draft - version 8.2 - of the standard when it announced it has begun shipping its third-generation, AR5002 family of client and base-station Wi-Fi silicon.

The AR5002 line provides dual-band 2.4GHz and 5GHz wireless networking based on 802.11b, g and a, through two-chip solutions (a MAC/baseband part plus a radio chip).

The AR500X provides full-range dual-band networking, while the AR5002G supports the 2.4GHz band standards and the AR5002A targets the corporate 5GHz market with Wireless Multimedia Enhancements (WME) quality-of-service provision, a sub-set of the yet-to-be-ratified 802.11e spec.

All three client chipsets support the Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) security scheme. WPA is a sub-set of the upcoming 802.11i standard. WPA essentially leaves out encryption schemes - Temporal Key Integrity Protocol (TKIP) and Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) - from 802.11i that will require hardware acceleration. The AR5002 family provides that acceleration, Atheros said. It's also built in Cisco Compatible Extensions (CCX) and Meetinghouse's Aegis authentication API for VPNs. Both are seen as essential for corporate customers.

Atheros also said it has boosted the radio chips' range while lowering the chipsets' overall power consumption. And it has incorporated its Super G and Super A/G acceleration technologies that improve maximum network performance - 90Mbps of TCP/IP throughput, the company claims, for networks containing 802.11b nodes, and 108Mbps for a/g networks - between Atheros products that support the schemes. Super G and Super A/G use hardware data compression and data burst modes to achieve these higher throughputs.

Atheros' AR5002 base-station chipsets are the AR5002AP-2X, AR5002AP-X, AR5002AP-G and AR5002AP-A. The first two provide dual-band support, with the 2X hosting concurrent networks, and the X simply capable of being configured to operate in one band or the other. The 2X also provides WPA plus TKIP and AES security. The G and A configurations are aimed at budget base-stations offering single-band connectivity.

All AR5002AP MAC/baseband chips integrate wired Ethernet links to enable base-stations to be connected to fixed networks or Internet gateways. The chips also support Dynamic Frequency Selection (DFS) and Transmit Power Control (TPC), techniques required for 5GHz products certified for use in the European Union - and soon the US too - but which are not part of the current 802.11a standard.

DFS and TPC will become part of 802.11a under the 802.11ah extension.

Atheros' AR5002 parts will begin shipping today, the company said. As yet, prices have not been published. ®

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The Register's Wireless LAN Channel

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