Wireless LAN Chipset, Access Points Unveiled by Intel

The company Tuesday demonstrated an internally-developed dual-band wireless LAN chipset.

LAS VEGAS -- Intel Corp. on Tuesday demonstrated an internally-developed dual-band wireless LAN chipset, an indication that the company no longer plans to continue depending on third parties for WLAN silicon as it does now.

At the Networld+Interop trade show here, the Santa Clara, Calif., company announced the PRO/Wireless 5000 LAN Dual Band Access Point, which allows for simultaneous Wi-Fi (802.11b) and 802.11a connections. The company demonstrated the access point supporting both a Compaq iPaq handheld computer running 802.11b and a notebook computer running the faster 802.11a at the same time.

The access point uses silicon from Atheros Inc., but Intel, being a chip company itself, has plans for homegrown dual-band products. Officials at the show said that Intel will introduce its own wireless LAN chipset by the end of the year.

"It makes sense for us to do our own core silicon," said Taizoon Doctor, general manager of the mobile communications division of the platform networking group at Intel. The company plans to offer better performance than the Atheros chipset, Doctor said. But more than that, developing the silicon in-house will make it easier to integrate wireless capabilities into the companys existing line of mobile and desktop chipsets.

Intel plans to have mini PCI cards for dual-band wireless LANs next year.

The company also plans to support dual-band wireless LANs on its X-scale processors for handheld computers, although officials declined to say when. Currently handheld computers cannot support 802.11a because of interface issues.

"B is not going to go away," Doctor said. "But everyone acknowledges you have to go to A eventually."

Intel also is working on several initiatives to improve wireless LAN security, including 802.11i, the IEEE standard designed to replace the flawed wired equivalent privacy protocol. Intel engineers are among those who are editing the standard, and Doctor said that it probably wont be ratified before the third quarter of next year.

In the meantime, the company is supporting third-party security solutions. The company has invested in and plans to help market the standalone security products from Bluesocket Inc.

Bluesocket at N+I introduced the WG-2000 Wireless Gateway, which sits between a wireless network and the wired LAN.

The gateway is designed to support large enterprises. It supports PPTP and Ipsec encryption protocols and includes network management features such as role-based access control, authentication against several types of central servers, and support for RADIUS accounting. RADIUS accounting lets enterprises track and charge for wireless access if they so desire. Pricing starts at $12,995.