SyChip card to use Intersil chipset for WiFi in PDAs

Intersil Corp. and SyChip Inc. announced Tuesday that Intersil's PRISM 3 chipset will power a wireless LAN (WLAN) card from SyChip Inc., allowing Internet access for handheld users.

SyChip's forthcoming card will allow any handheld device that includes an SD (secure digital) slot to connect to public Internet access points or corporate networks using the 802.11b standard, also known as WiFi. PDAs (personal digital assistants) such as Hewlett-Packard Co.'s Compaq iPaq or several models from Palm Inc. come with an SD slot.

Samples of the card are expected to be ready by the end of 2002. The company didn't say when the card will begin appearing in commercially available products.

Intersil and SyChip's design is based on the SDIO (SD input/output) standard, which was endorsed in January 2002 by the SD Card Association, an industry trade group. SD cards have been mostly used as memory expansion cards for handhelds, but with the endorsement, companies are now developing other peripheral products, like WLAN cards, based on the SDIO standard.

One benefit of SDIO cards are their small size, measuring 50 millimeters long by 24 millimeters wide by 2.1 millimeters thick (1.25 inches by 1 inch by .1 inch). This makes them a lightweight alternative to other external hardware options for WLAN connectivity, the companies said.

As more products are developed that use the SD standard, Intersil, based in Irvine, California, and SyChip, based in Plano, Texas, expect the interface to become common on other devices, such as cell phones and digital cameras.

Pricing information was not disclosed. Palm sells a Bluetooth WLAN card also based on the SDIO standard for US$129 in the U.S.

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