Wireless Chip Maker Fuels Call for Multiduty Access Points

 
 
By Carmen Nobel  |  Posted 2004-07-12 Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

WLAN hardware manufacturers are gearing up to take advantage of new silicon that promises to increase range and decrease the price of enterprise access points.

WLAN (wireless LAN) hardware manufacturers are gearing up to take advantage of new silicon that promises to increase range and decrease the price of enterprise access points.

Chip maker Engim Inc. this week will introduce a high-capacity wireless LAN chip set, which officials said will be used by several major access point manufacturers in products due in the next six months.

The EN-3001 Intelligent Wideband Wireless LAN chip set is what the Acton, Mass., company dubs an "all services access point" processor, designed to support multiple functions simultaneously.

The EN-3001 increases the range and throughput capacity of a typical WLAN threefold, using a technique called wide-band spectral processing, which allows an access point to support multiple radio channels. Engims new version bests its predecessor, the EN-3000, by including embedded Ethernet media access controls, which allows licensees to create thin access points for WLAN switching infrastructures.

What about WiMax? Read more here about Intels uphill climb for the next-generation wireless protocol. While other WLAN companies have developed ways to mitigate channel interference, Engim distinguishes itself by keeping the features in the silicon, officials said.

"Because theyre placing all this intelligence in silicon, it is going to save me a bunch of money," said Brad Noblet, director of technical services at Dartmouth College, in Hanover, N.H. "Instead of paying $1,000 for these industrial-strength access points, Im going to be able to get into the sub-$200 region because theyve got it in the chip."

Engim would not name the licensees that plan to sell enterprise equipment based on its chip, but Noblet said he has signed nondisclosure agreements with several "major players in the wireless space" who plan to release gear based on the Engim chip.

Engim will announce this week that Matrx Aerospace Broadband Technologies LLC, of Arlington Heights, Ill., will use the EN-3001 chip set in a wireless base station designed to support multiple services on commercial aircraft, ranging from passenger Internet services to monitoring systems on the plane. The base station should be available by the end of next year, officials said.

To expedite access point development, Engim this week is also introducing two white-box access point reference designs. The AP-310 is a so-called fat access point, which keeps most of the WLAN functions in the unit itself, while the AP-320 is a thin access point, which sends encapsulated packets to a WLAN switch.

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