CSR unveils 'lowest cost' Wi-Fi chip

UniFi utilises MIMO, aimed at mobile phones, CE kit

Bluetooth chip specialist Cambridge Silicon Radio (CSR) today extended its reach into the crowded Wi-Fi arena by launching a line of single-chip WLAN parts pitched at mobile phones and other handheld devices that is pledged are the "lowest cost" chips of their kind.

Shipping under the UniFi brand, the new chips come in two versions: an 802.11b/g product, UniFi-1 Portable, developed for mobile phone usage, and UniFi-1 Consumer, an 802.11a/b/g radio for phones and other consumer electronics kit. The latter contains its own Flash memory, in addition to the firmware, MAC, radio, modem and baseband elements common to both chips.

The chips operate across an SD IO interface. They also incorporate multiple input/multiple output (MIMO) technology to boost their range, CSR said, using twin antennae and receivers.

The Portable part measures 5.8 x 6.4mm and is intended to be mounted directly on a handset's motherboard. UniFi Consumer ships in a standard BGA package measuring 8 x 8mm.

CSR claimed both parts are ideal for CE devices. A hard-wired MAC eliminates the need to run MAC software on the host's own processor, and the company's understanding of Bluetooth has allowed it to design the new chips to co-exist with that wireless technology, it said.

"UniFi is optimised to minimise spurious emissions in the cellular phone bands and to not be blocked by co-located cellular transmitters," CSR added.

Both UniFi chips will sample later this year before going into volume production in Q2/Q3 2005. Both are priced at under $8 - "the lowest cost solution in the market", the company claimed - with an external component bill of materials of under $1, CSR said.

Formed in 1998, CSR is best known for its ground-breaking single-chip Bluetooth solution, BlueCore. The company has in the fast received funding from the likes of Intel and Sony. The company first went public on its plan to enter the single-chip Wi-Fi market last year. ®

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