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Airoha dials up wireless transceiver chip

Posted: 25 Oct 2004 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:airoha technology? wlan? wireless lan? 802.11 a/b/g transceiver? motorola?

Fabless RF chip designer Airoha Technology Corp. is keeping in step with a series of WLAN rollouts by its peers with the introduction of an 802.11a/b/g transceiver that will go into mass production by year's end.

The company is also transitioning its inaugural RF chip for the cellphone marketa quad-band GSM/GPRS deviceinto mass production and has tipped plans for integrating Edge functionality into the chip in 2005 and W-CDMA in 2006.

Airoha, a subsidiary of Taiwan-based electronics maker BenQ Corp., will likely have a ready customer in its parent, which is looking to supplant potentially costlier components in phones made under the BenQ name as well as for those it designs for others, including Motorola Inc.

Airoha is also sampling a low-power 802.11g chip and has plans to introduce a smaller, ultra-low-power version in early 2005. It will also roll out an 802.11n version around that time.

Recent announcements are pointing toward greater digital and RF integration by WLAN makers, such as one made last week by Atheros Communications, Inc., which released an integrated 802.11a/b/g MAC, baseband and transceiver chip designed in a digital process.

However, unlike some of his peers in Silicon Valley, Airoha President Michael Lu said he still believes that the ideal groupingor cheaper approachis to keep the analog and the digital portions separate. "There are no common blocks between the PHY and transceiver. If there were many common blocks, then RF CMOS would take advantage of that because you could eliminate the redundant blocks," he said.

Airoha is hoping to gain more business in the WLAN market by taking advantage of a new trend developing among notebook PC makers wanting to add digital TV functionality. Because the DTV module competes with the wireless LAN modules for the mini-PCI slot, Lu believes that notebook makers will look for customized modules that can piggyback on an LCD module.

The 7-by-7mm size of Airoha's 802.11g chip makes it a strong candidate for such integration, and may help Airoha to forge an alliance with Intel Corp. and its module suppliers for designs requiring greater customization.

That could pit Airoha against Intel's internal design team. During the past year or so, Intel acquired two companies to boost its know-how in the RF space, including Envara, based in Israel, and Mobilian. Both brought 802.11 RF designs to the table. Airoha's success in wooing Intel and its module suppliers will largely rely upon its ability to locally support the Intel-certified module makers in their customization projects.

- Mike Clendenin

EE Times





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