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'First' CE-grade 802.11n-draft-compliant chipset rolls

Posted: 14 Dec 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:WLAN? 802.11n? Wi-Fi? Metalink? HDTV?

Here's a chipset that may ease designs of wireless digital entertainment systems. Introduced by Metalink Ltd, a provider of wireless and wire-line broadband communication silicon, this second-generation WLANPlus chipset is billed by the company as the industry's first CE-grade IEEE-802.11n-draft-compliant dual-band chipset.

The devices comprising the chipset were pre-introduced about 18 months ago by Metalink, and the company is now set to ship to OEMs with this second-generation rendition.

Back in 2005, the first-gen chipset was priced at $25 a pop in high OEM quantities. This latest spin comes in at less than $20.

Full-coverage wireless home
Designed to enable high-throughput content-rich applications, WLANPlus could be the foundation for a full-coverage wireless home entertainment network. The WLANPlus comprises a MtW8171 baseband device and a MtW8151 RFIC.

Metalink says its WLANPlus MtW8171 and MtW8151 802.11n chipset is optimized to go beyond previous approaches that were designed primarily to transport data. In contrast, the WLANPlus addresses the more rigorous needs of CE designs.

As such, it supports demanding optional specifications of the 802.11n standard, providing functions critical for the streaming of HDTV video, for example. In that role it can support three MPEG-2 HDTV streams at 60Mbps, with distance coverage to 60ft.

It also supports operation in both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. In tune with the specs called out in the IEEE drafts for 802.11n Wi-Fi certification, this device is also fully compliant with 802.11a/b/g-based legacy devices, as well as 802.11h (for radar detection), 802.11i (for security applications) and with 802.11e QoS.

The chipset also supports optional features, and uses proprietary algorithms, to meet multimedia applications that require high bandwidth and the lowest possible jitter, latency and packet loss.

To double network coverage in a typical home environment, the WLANPlus approach features a so-called maximum likelihood (ML) slicer, as well as an advance-coding gain using low-density parity checking (LDPC). The LDPC uses forward error-correction (FEC) to boost range and signal robustness.

In a 2 x 3 multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) ranking, Metalink's ML slicer provides benefits equivalent to those of transmit beam formingwithout the dependency problems associated with the latter. ML is implemented within a DSP processing portion of the transmitter. Channel-bonding and antenna-loading techniques in the 5GHz band provide additional video-distribution performance.

Enhanced QoS
To guarantee QoS, WLANPLus also features QoS mechanisms Metalink calls Enhanced Distribution Channel Access (EDCA) with admission control, and fast link adaptation (FLA). The device also implements dynamic link adaptation (DLS) that cuts the amount of air time that must be used for QoS operations by 50 percent, while increasing network efficiency.

The WLANPlus chipset also fully implements a MAC. That is claimed to reduce the required processing horsepower and memory allocation from an application's host processor. This eases WLANPlus integration and reduces total product cost.

Packet-aggregation techniques boost MAC efficiency to double the effective throughput of other techniques offered by competitors.

Metalink is offering several reference designs for its chipset, including support for Mini PCI (Type IIIB), CardBus and residential gateways.

- Alex Mendelsohn

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