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Kit speeds WLAN development on Linux

Posted: 08 Jul 2004 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:absolutevalue systems? embedded-software package? 802.11a/b/g? linux? avs 802.11 wlan development platform?

AbsoluteValue Systems Inc., an early supporter of IEEE 802.11-compliant chips on open-source platforms, is offering an embedded-software package that will support 802.11a/b/g chipsets on any Linux platform. The AVS 802.11 WLAN Development Platform marks AbsoluteValue's turn away from ODMs to a different customer base.

The Melbourne, Fla., supplier will now focus on established companies that want to wirelessly enable their systems quickly, said Brian Mathews, VP of marketing and sales. "ODMs are now getting stuff from chip OEMs," so a refocus was necessary, he said.

AbsoluteValue established itself by offering open-source software to support Intersil Corp.'s Prism 1 WLAN chipset on Linux platforms. The free software, which came out shortly after Prism became available in 1997, is still used today by students and experimenters, Mathews said. But the need to support ODMs in Taiwan and elsewhere has diminished, he said.

The company now supports established companies or startups that want to experiment with wireless technologies, or a third group composed of "people with academic pursuits that are trying new aspects of things such as protocol variations and peer-to-peer ad hoc networking," Mathews said.

Key difference

The business model is different from that of chipset suppliers that offer development kits or turnkey solutions, Mathews said. "We're not competing with them; support is what we do." Developers that license the AVS platform get source code and are able to make changes to it.

The AVS 802.11 WLAN Development Platform supports a range of WLAN chipsets, including the full Prism line, which is now being produced by Conexant Systems Inc., as well as Texas Instruments Inc.'s TNETW1100 baseband processor.

For basic operation, Mathews said that the company recommends a 32-bit CPU running at 50MHz. "But memory is the big thing, as Linux gets a bad rap for this," he said. Mathews recommends 2MB to 4MB of flash memory and 8MB to 16MB of RAM.

To simplify matters, AbsoluteValue is offering a full baseline hardware platform with a Toshiba MIPS processor running at 133MHz, 4MB of flash, 16MB of RAM and two mini-PCI slots-one for the baseline 802.11b configuration and one for an 802.11a or .11g card. Two 10/100 Ethernet ports are also provided. The system is designed around host-based media-access control.

WiMax may be next As the number of standalone WLAN chip suppliers shrinks and those devices become part of a broader design, such as an integrated gateway, Mathews said AbsoluteValue realized it must change too. "We'll have to broaden our focus, but will continue to offer support to embedded developers using our experience in WLANs and Linux," he said.

This might include forays into WiMax and ultrawideband wireless, he said, and "also might include complete solutions like for wireless voice-over-IP and multimedia - a more complete software - licensing package."

The AVS Development Platform is available now for a one-time licensing fee of $14,000.

- Patrick Mannion

EE Times

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