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Card trims down cost for dual .11n router designs

Posted: 04 Jun 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Wi-Fi routers? 802.11n network? transceivers? GbE controller?

Atheros Communications Inc. has designed a card for home Wi-Fi routers that aims to slash in half the price of a dual 802.11n network device. The company will roll out the design at Computex in Taipei this week as part of its effort to proliferate the latest high-end Wi-Fi technology.

The Xspan AR9002AP uses four Atheros chips including separate 2.4- and 5GHz 802.11n transceivers, a 680MHz network processor and a Fast or GbE controller on a single-sided board. The company claims competitors use as many as six chips and many more discretes on multiple dual-sided boards to serve similar designs.

"Today dual, concurrent Wi-Fi routers cost $200 or more at retail and that has never been a consumer friendly product at that price level," said Todd Antes, VP of marketing at Atheros. "With this design you can get into the $100 sweet spot," he said.

Demand is rising for two 200Mbit/s .11n links in the home given today's video game consoles and an increasing number of cellphones and media players use Wi-Fi.

"In the home network today it's not uncommon to find five to ten devices on a network," Antes said. "Today most people are still trying to do that on a single 2.4GHz network, but there is plenty of untapped spectrum in Wi-Fi they could be using," he added.

With the new router design, savvy home users could put latency-sensitive traffic on the 5GHz network. Less time-critical traffic could ride the 2.4GHz link, Antes suggested.

Atheros hopes to make .11n technology available in all Wi-Fi product segments soon. A new generation of .11n client controllers aimed at entry-level notebooks will emerge, perhaps before the end of the year.

Currently most entry-level notebooks use 2.4GHz .11g technology. Middle-tier products tend to use dual band .11ag chips today, he said.

- Rick Merritt
EE Times

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