Broadcom puts Wi-Fi into one chip

By , IDG News Service |  Mobile & Wireless

Another issue for Broadcom is the specter of Intel's Centrino offering for notebooks, which integrates Wi-Fi functionality into the system's main chipset. Broadcom will have limited opportunity to compete against Centrino on the notebook side, which represents the lion's share of the overall Wi-Fi market, so it needs to find or cultivate new markets, Byrne said.

Abramowitz said Broadcom's Wi-Fi offerings for notebooks offer higher performance and lower power consumption than does Centrino and Broadcom intends to keep competing in that market.

Broadcom integrated an 802.11b baseband processor, a power amplifier, a MAC (Media Access Controller) and all other radio components, including the 2.4GHz radio itself, into a single chip. That brings the size of a complete chip module down to 14.8 mm by 26.5 mm (0.58 inches by 1.04 inches), about one-seventh the size of Broadcom's current Wi-Fi module for PCI cards, Broadcom said.

In addition to smaller chip size and greater integration, Broadcom has cut Wi-Fi power consumption with software it calls SuperStandby. SuperStandby wakes up the minimum amount of circuitry on the chip for the shortest possible time to check for incoming data, according to the company. As a result, OneChip consumes 97 percent less power in standby mode than does Intel Corp.'s Centrino chipset for notebooks, the company said.

In addition, OneChip's OneDriver software includes support for several security capabilities, including WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access), CCX (Cisco Compatible Extensions) and AES (Advanced Encryption Standard), according to Broadcom.

Next, Broadcom plans to apply the lessons it's learned developing OneChip to Wi-Fi modules for notebooks. For PCs, Broadcom is now focusing on faster 802.11g and 802.11a/g technology that is still in the form of multiple-chip solutions, Abramowitz said. However, advancements to be announced next week, such as lower power consumption, will be a boon to those systems as well, Abramowitz said.

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