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Development tools support wireless USB silicon

Posted: 20 Mar 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Wireless USB? reference design kit? WiQuest? Alex Mendelsohn?

Development kits aren't something I usually get terribly excited about, as they're generally considered a must-have with respect to a new product that needs experimentation or coding, but Wireless USB is an exciting extension of USB's evolution. Having tools to develop a Wireless USB product is significant.

In this case, the product proves that WiQuest Communications Inc.'s WQST110 and WQST101 chipset, which we recently reviewed isn't a paper tiger.

The PCI Express mini card translates to a compelling here-and-now development. This kit represents one of the industry's first routes to developing upgrades for products packing wireless USB 2.0 connectivity.

UWB (Ultrawideband) chips can be used by PC, consumer electronics and mobile systems companies. These OEMs typically focus on wireless connections based on the WiMedia common radio platform.

Based on certified wireless USB
The kit focuses on the protocol based on Certified Wireless USB as defined by the USB Implementers Forum. As a reference design, it can assist you in designing a standard host wired adapter (HWA), but, when coupled with WiQuest's Wireless USB Adapter, Wireless USB Hub, or another Wireless USB PCI Express mini card on the device side, the hardware and software provides an integrated end-to-end approach.

Comprising both hardware and software, the kit includes schematics, layout source files and a bill-of-material. You also get a design manual, a user's guide and a quick-start guide.

The implementation also includes WiQuest's high-speed UWB chipset, a PCB, surrounding passive components, a UWB antenna and supporting firmware.

The software includes HWA and device wired adapter driver and firmware. You also get a Windows utility that supports auto-discovery, multiple association options, field upgrade functions and detailed diagnostics.

The silicon
Although we previously looked at the chipset when it debuted in December of 2005, let's give it a brief overview again here.

The WQST110 chip includes a full UWB media access controller and a PHY baseband processor. It also integrates a USB 2.0 subsystem. For its part, the companion WQST101 device is a direct-conversion UWB RF transceiver.

These two devices, and related components, fit into a standard PCI Express mini card form-factor. Using the same hardware and software baseline means that the WQST110 and WQST101 combo can be used for both ends of a design (at host and a device).

1Gbps data rate
The Wireless USB PCI Express mini card supports all standard WiMedia data rates, from 53Mbps to wired USB's 480Mbps speed. In addition, WiQuest extended the WiMedia standard to handle extended data rates from 640Mbps to a 1Gbps-plus data rate.

The card also includes a built-in encryption engine, and no external memory is required. Finally, WiQuest uses forward error correction (FEC) to support the higher data rates. FEC improves the performance at lower data rates, too.

WiQuest also offers its WQST100EVK evaluation kit. The modular WQST100EVK includes a UWB radio sub-system, a USB 2.0 interface, a power supply, and an expansion interface for optional add-on I/O cards. The evaluation kit's design supports quick prototyping, and integration into existing or new embedded platforms.

The modular WQST100EVK also includes connectors and test headers that let you measure a variety of signals, interfaces, and system details. These includes antennas, RF transceiver performance, baseband processor performance and PSD (power spectral density) measurements.

The evaluation kit also includes application software and UWB firmware. The firmware lets you perform interoperability, performance, throughput, rate/range and packet error-rate tests. The WQST100EVK also comes with Windows-based USB drivers, configuration software and a diagnostic utility. The latter lets you test each interface, perform calibration and compliance testing, and perform system throughput testing.

- Alex Mendelsohn

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