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Engim upgrades multiport WLAN AP chipset

Posted: 16 Jul 2004 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:engim? wlan chipset? en-3001? transceiver? mixed-signal ic?

The startup Engim is hoping to boost adoption of its multichannel access point technology with the release of its second-generation wideband WLAN chipset.

Engim's claim to fame in the WLAN sector is development of a wideband WLAN chipset called the EN-3001 that operates over 80MHz of spectrum in order to extract three WLAN channels. The chipset combines a wideband transceiver, a mixed-signal IC that handles analog-to-digital and digital-to-analog conversion along with a baseband chip that includes three separate baseband processing engines that each support 802.11a/b/g operation.

Just over a year after launching its first chipset, Engim has made key additions to improve overall performance and ease access point design.

One of the biggest challenges in a multichannel WLAN design is that the access point interferes with itself, said Alex Bugeja, Engim's CTO and founder. To curb interference, Engim has added transmit cancellation capabilities to its transceiver device.

Through the cancellation technique, interference from the transmit antenna is copied and regenerated at the receive antenna. The technique allows Engim's chipsets to account for the impact of noise from the transmit channel in the receive path, Bugeja said.

Engim has also addressed the issues of interference created by side lobes from systems operating in adjacent bands. Since Engim's chipset operates over a wide bandwidth, Bugeja said the system can more easily see side lobes created by systems in adjacent channels. Using this information, the chip set predicts the impact and adjusts for the impact of side lobes, thus increasing overall link performance.

In addition to increasing the interference capabilities supported on-chip, Engim also tweaked its baseband processing chip to support the development of thin access points. Bugeja said two Ethernet media access control (MAC) blocks were added to the chip. Designers can link the blocks to external Ethernet physical layer chips and then into an Ethernet switch, thereby eliminating the need for an external RISC processor for an access point design.

In addition to Ethernet MACs and baseband processing blocks, the baseband chip comes equipped with a triple-speed MAC, hardware encryption engine and RISC processor core. The baseband chip also offers a spectrum monitor that allows a system to monitor the whole 80MHz WLAN spectrum. "This block acts like a spectrum analyzer," Bugeja said.

The baseband IC was developed in a 0.18?m CMOS process while the mixed-signal and transceiver used IBM's SiGe process. The chip consumes approximately 6.5W of power. According to Engim, a full access point, including chassis and antenna, can be designed with the EN-3001 chipset for under $100.

- Robert Keenan

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