Atheros shows new 2x2 pre-802.11n chip

Atheros has just launched a 2x2 MIMO complying with the draft-802.11n standard. Note that this is a more modest solution relative to the 3x3 architecture--more modest in both speed and range. Still, Atheros says that the chip offers reliable coverage of the entire home at speeds of up to 300 Mbps.

The new chip is designated AR5008V and it is based on the company's XSPAN line. The company says that the new chip will be cheaper than the 3x3 version. "We're launching a cost-optimized 2x2 solution. The 3x3 integrates more radios for much greater range and rate-over-range capability. What 2x2 does is essentially integrates all of the underlying 802.11n elements to give you performance enhancements, but it really addresses mainstream 802.11n solutions at the retail level," Harpreet Chohan, senior product marketing manager, said.

The AR5008V provides PCI and PCIe host interface support for integrating the chipset into laptops, routers, and APs. The AR5008V also features all the mandatory technical elements in the Draft 1.0 802.11n specification.

Atheros may be on to something in coming out with this reduced-capabilities chip: As we reported last week, the sale of pre-802.11n gear has been brisk, even if it still accounts for only a small fraction of the WLAN equipment market. Still, there are analysts who argue that the pace of draft-802.11n sales would have been more impressive had it not been for consumer fears that the pre-802.11n gear they buy now will be incompatible with certified 802.11n gear, once the standard is ratified. One way to make sure that people buy more pre-802.11n gear now is to make it cheaper, thus making any losses incurred when replacing the gear less painful.

For more on Atheros new pre-802.11n chip:
- see Suzanne Deffree's Electronic Times report

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