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Atheros unveils 'world first' 802.11a/b/g chip

Three WLAN specs, one silicon die

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Wi-Fi chip maker Atheros has begun sampling what it claims is the world's first single-chip 802.11a, b and g part, the company announced today.

The AR5006X combines 2.4GHz and 5GHz radio, baseband processor and MAC on a single slab of silicon. The device also provides full support for the 802.11i hardware-accelerated wireless security spec, also known as Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) 2. Atheros didn't mention WPA 2 by name, so the AR5006X may not yet be formally certified as supporting the technology.

However, the company did say the AR5006X supports the Wi-Fi Alliance's Wi-Fi Multimedia (WMM) spec, a subset of the as-yet-unratified 802.11e quality of service standards.

Like other recent Atheros releases, the single-chip tri-mode solution also incorporates the company's proprietary range extending and 108Mbps performance enhancements, XR and Super AG, though of course these only work with network equipment that also contains Atheros' chips.

Atheros already offers a dual-chip tri-mode offering, and the company touted the new part as a lower-cost solution, cutting the number of components that need to go into its Wi-Fi adaptor reference designs by 15 parts, with a corresponding reduction in cost.

Atheros said it expects to put the AR5006X into volume production later this quarter. Each chip costs "under $12" ($11.99?) in 10,000 unit quantities. ®

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