ALi preps low-cost WLAN chip for PCs, DVDs

Dual band, triple mode

ALi, the chip maker formerly known as Acer Labs, has launched its first dual-band, triple-mode wireless networking chip, pitching the part at low-cost computing and home entertainment applications.

The M4305 MAC/baseband chip operates in the 2.4GHz band to provide 802.11b and 802.11g access, and in the 5GHz band for 802.11a networking.

The chip also supports the proposed 802.11h extension standard, which will upgrade 802.11a to European WLAN standards, and the proposed 802.11i security standard. Both 802.11i and 802.11h are not expected to be ratified until late this year or early 2004. 802.11i includes Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA), the latest WLAN security spec., launched recently by the Wi-Fi Alliance.

The chip is designed to be incorporated into PCI, PC Card and Mini PCI cards, and features extensive and power management systems, ALi said. Because the chip offloads some computation work to the host's processor, the power management system not only works to reduce the M4305's consumption but to minimise CPU utilisation wherever possible.

The M4305 uses the host processor because it enables ALi to ship the chip without its own processing core and associated on-chip memory. The result is a smaller, cheaper product. ALi is targeting the product at low-end notebooks and desktop PCs.

It also has its eye on non-computing applications such as DVDs, TVs and Hi-Fi kit

The M4305 will operate with a multi-mode radio chip from Envara. Pricing has yet to be published, but volume production is expected sometime in the second half of the year. ®

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