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Apple activates draft-n mode in its computers

Posted: 05 Feb 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:.11n? Bluetooth? Wi-Fi? Apple? Intel?

Keeping pace with the PC crowd, Apple Inc. announced Tuesday that users can download software to activate stealth, next-generation Wi-Fi features in products that have been shipping since August.

The software will activate a draft 802.11n mode in computers that shipped using a chipset configured for .11abg wireless applications.

The news comes on the heels of an announcement from Intel Corp., which is shipping a draft .11n module being used in notebooks from companies such as Acer, Asus, Gateway and Toshiba.

Apple would not say whose chipset it is using in its systems or in new draft .11n base stations it started shipping Tuesday. It did say the chip supports the version 1.10 draft of .11n, including support for 2x3 MIMO antenna configurations.

The Apple .11n implementation will support data rates for TCP/IP traffic of 85-95Mbps. It can handle ranges of 300-500ft, said David Moody, a VP of product marketing at Apple.

For $1.99, Apple will sell software on its Apple Store to upgrade .11abg systems using a chipset that also supports draft .11n. The systems include some Mac Pro desktops shipping since August 2006 as well as some Intel Core Duo-based iMacs and MacBooks shipping since September.

Apple will not support bonding two 20MHz channels in the 2.4GHz band to achieve greater throughput. That's because the broader channels can interfere with Bluetooth, which comes standard on Apple systems.

"Bluetooth performance will be so low [under 2.4GHz channel bonding] that keyboards and mice will not work well enough," said Moody.

Apple developed new utilities for .11n including a set-up tool that can create a secure wireless network for both Mac and PC products with just a few mouse clicks. Another utility lets a Mac notebook hard drive appear automatically on a desktop Mac once it joins the wireless net.

- Rick Merritt
EE Times

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