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WNPU unlocks full potential of 802.11n

Posted: 11 Jan 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Wi-Fi? 802.11n? WNPU? Atheros? WLAN?

Atheros Communications Inc. has announced the AR7161, the latest device in its AR7100 Wireless Network Processing Unit (WNPU) family. The highly optimized and cost-effective WNPU unlocks the full potential of 802.11n technology to enable simultaneous high-bandwidth applications, like high-definition (HD) video streaming, network attached storage and multiplayer gaming, in addition to wireless printing, audio streaming and VoIP telephony.

Highest .11n performance
The AR7161 was specifically designed to support the highest 802.11n performance in a cost-effective processor solution. The full benefits of the WNPU are realized in the company's newly launched 802.11n chipset, the AR5008AP-3NX2, which is based on XSPAN with Signal-Sustain Technology. The chipset enables a dual-concurrent, 2.4GHz plus 5GHz WLAN access point (AP)/router solution featuring a 3x3 MIMO design (three complete RF transmit and receive chains). Products featuring this chipset will have the processing power to support 27-channel wireless capacity delivering up to 600Mbps combined physical data rates when operating on two concurrent channels.

The AR7100 WNPU family promises an exponential increase in processing performance for new 802.11n APs and routers. Atheros designed its WNPUs looking beyond clock speed towards optimizing overall system performance.

First, the company increased the instruction memory cache size to 64Kbyte to overcome barriers faced by competitive NPUs, which offer only 16Kbytes to 32Kbytes. The entire operating code fits within the AR7100's larger instruction cache, eliminating routine memory fetches to ensure higher system performance.

Double memory speed
Additionally, the AR7100 implements a high-speed 32bit DDR memory interface to double the raw memory speed in comparison to general-purpose network processors that use SDRAM.

To enhance efficiency of memory access, Atheros implemented a five-port dedicated memory architecture, rather than the more common two-port approach. All key system resources have a dedicated memory port that allows direct and simultaneous access.

In Atheros' internal tests, an XSPAN wireless router based on the 300MHz AR7130 WNPU achieved significantly higher data throughput than a similar system based on a competing 400MHz general-purpose network processor.

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