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Airgo third-gen Wi-Fi chip outperforms 100Mbps Ethernet

Real-world tests confirm it, claims company

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Wi-Fi chip maker Airgo today said it has begun sampling its third-generation, 'Gen3' MIMO chip, which it maintains will offer raw wireless data transfer rates of up to 240Mbps.

That's almost three times as fast as rival "premium wireless" solutions, the company claimed, and clearly well beyond the 802.11g standard's 54Mbps.

Real-world transmission rates, where interference, error correction and other overheads knock back the actual speed, are rather lower. But Airgo said tests using uncompressed data yielded an actual TCP/IP throughput of more than 120Mbps - higher than standard-speed wired Ethernet, though clearly some way off the increasingly commonplace Gigabit Ethernet.

The third-generation part is a two-radio, single-chip solution, Airgo said. That, it claimed, yields a 20 per cent reduction on power consumption - good for notebook users, this - and, for manufacturers, a 15 per cent reduction in a wireless adaptor's overall components cost.

The Gen3 part will ship under Airgo's True MIMO brand, so named because the company claims its products are the only ones that meet the formal definition of the Multiple Input, Multiple Output (MIMO) technique. They should - the technique was pioneered by the company's founders during their time as Stanford University academics.

MIMO is a sub-set of the Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (OFDM) technique already used by many wireless technologies, including mobile phones networks, 802.11 a and g Wi-Fi, and WiMAX. MIMO used multiple antennae to harness multiple signal transmission pathways, created as the transmitted signal reflects off and refracts round objects causing what was once considered interference. With some clever signal processing, Airgo's chips leverage that interference to boost the WLAN's range and data transfer rate.

Airgo launched its first MIMO chips back in 2003. Its first- and second-generation Wi-Fi chipsets can be found in wireless networking kit from Belkin, Buffalo, Netgear and Linksys. In June, Samsung said it would incorporate Airgo-based Wi-Fi adaptors in a number of its notebook PCs in place of Intel's Centrino wireless chips.

Airgo said it expects Gen3 True MIMO parts to be incorporated into retail product by the end of the year. ®

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