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'First' single-chip 802.11n USB adapter cuts BOM costs

Posted: 09 Jun 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:USB adapter? 802.11n? WLAN? Wi-Fi?

Broadcom Corp. has released what it claims to be the first single-chip dual-band 802.11n solution for USB adapters.

The newest member of Broadcom's Intensi-fi XLR WLAN family enables very small and cost-effective USB adapters that consumers can use to connect PCs, TVs, STBs, personal video recorders and other devices to a Wi-Fi network. The new dual-band chip also features Broadcom's Accelerange technology to provide the wireless performance and range that is required to transfer high-definition content between devices throughout a home.

The Broadcom BCM4323 single-chip USB solution is designed using 65nm CMOS technology and enables 20mm x 52mm modules that are half the size of those built with multichip solutions. According to the company, the highly integrated chip also offers the lowest BOM cost, which enables manufacturers to build dual-band 802.11n USB adapters with form factors and price points that are comparable to most single band 802.11n adapters. The BCM4323 also features an integrated ARM processor and on-chip RAM that can offload wireless functions from the host processor in consumer devices. This enables manufacturers to embed easily dual-band 802.11n capabilities directly into multimedia products, such as DTVs, STBs and DVD players.

Most Wi-Fi equipment vendors now offer USB adapters (often called dongles) that connect non-wireless devices to a wireless network. According to ABI Research, annual shipments of Wi-Fi USB adapters will reach 15 million by 2011. A majority of these will be dual-band 802.11n adapters, to serve the growing number of consumers who are using the 5GHz portion of their wireless network for video streaming and VoIP calls. With greater network capacity and less interference than the 2.4GHz band, the 5GHz band is suitable for multimedia applications that require higher bandwidth, more robust signals and lower latency.

In addition, the BCM4323 is also the first Intensi-fi XLR solution with direct packet transmission (DPT)a feature that enables Wi-Fi client devices to communicate directly, rather than through a wireless router. 802.11n devices with DPT can automatically detect one another and establish a secure communications link, using the maximum bandwidth (up to 300Mbit/s), even if the devices are associated with an 802.11g router. This enables consumers to connect their multimedia Wi-Fi devices and get the maximum benefits of 802.11n, without upgrading their entire network infrastructure.

"BCM4323-based USB adapters will help many consumers realize the dream of a high definition digital home by extending wireless connectivity to all kinds of multimedia devices beyond PCs," said Satish Ganesan, product manager for Broadcom's WLAN line of business. "Our new USB solution provides a very small and affordable way for consumers to reap the performance benefits of 802.11n for a variety of data-only and multimedia applications."

Broadcom also offers single-band and dual-band reference designs based on the BCM4323. These reference designs leverage Broadcom's OneDriver software to provide a consistent set of features that deliver performance, ease-of-use and security for Intensi-fi based products. OneDriver software also includes drivers to support devices running Windows XP, Windows 2000, Windows Vista and Linux operating systems.

The BCM4323 single-chip 802.11n solution for USB adapters is now shipping in production volumes. Pricing is available upon request.

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