Two wireless silicon companies are manufacturing two-chip radios that support different WLAN standards.
Broadcom Corp. this week will unveil a two-chip solution for IEEE-approved 802.11b access points, while Intersil Corp. has started sampling a two-chip radio for the forthcoming 802.11g standard.
The idea behind such products is that the fewer the chips on a processor, the smaller and cheaper the products that use those chips.
"It brings a new price/performance measure to the industry for 802.11b access points and wireless routers," said Bill Bunch, product line manager for wireless network processors at Broadcom in Irvine, Calif., who said that licensees of the new processor would be able to build end-user products for less than $40 each.
Broadcoms processor combines the companys BCM4711 processor with its BCM2050 2.4GHz radio.
The radio was designed in such a way that Broadcom engineers can develop a single-chip system in the near future, but they declined to say when that would be, officials said.
Meanwhile, Intersil has begun sampling the Prism GT, a two-chip WLAN (wireless LAN) radio/processor combination that supports the upcoming 802.11g standard.
802.11g operates on the same frequency as 802.11b—the 2.4GHz radio band—but it promises speeds of up to 54M bps, whereas 802.11b tops off at 11M bps.
The Prisms transceiver takes high-frequency radio waves and converts them to baseband signals during reception, which eliminates the need for an intermediate frequency stage that most radios need. This reduces manufacturing costs and enables smaller radios for handheld devices, officials said.
"The response from customers has been very enthusiastic, and multiple new design wins are under way," said Larry Ciaccia, vice president and general manager of Intersils Wireless Networking Product Group, also in Irvine. Products based on the chip are expected next year, but officials would not announce the manufacturer.