Toshiba introduces new 5GHz WLAN chipset

Toshiba America Electronic Components Inc. (TAEC) has announced a new 5GHz range chipset that the company says provides the essential components for a high-speed, broadband wireless LAN (WLAN) and conforms to the IEEE 802.11a specification.

Since the adoption of the first IEEE 802.11 standard in 1997, major corporations such as Apple, 3COM, Aironet, Cabletron, Cisco, Compaq, Dell, Intel, Lucent, Nokia, Samsung and Symbol have adopted the standard. Most WLAN devices on the market today operate according to the IEEE 802.11b specification, -- including Apple's AirPort. This industry standard, sometimes called "Wi-Fi," permits computers to transfer data without using network cables at around 11Mbps. 802.11b-compliant devices send and receive data in the same frequency range as many digital cordless phones -- 2.4GHz.

802.11a is a more expensive and less ubiquitous standard, but it's slowly gaining acceptance in environments where considerably higher transfer rates are needed than 802.11b allows, but where the convenience of wireless networking is still sought. 802.11a-compliant devices can operate at up to 54Mbps, almost five times faster than 802.11b devices. However, 802.11a -- which operates in the 5GHz range -- isn't backward compatible with the 802.11b specification.

The TAEC chipset consists of a baseband LSI and intermediate frequency (IF) integrated circuit (IC). It's designed to address "the emerging market of wireless audio and video (A/V) distribution in the home of the future," said Farhad Mafie, vice president of the ASSP Business Unit at TAEC.

"We believe the 5GHz WLAN is an ideal wireless technology and will become one of the key standards for wirelessly dispersing A/V between residential gateway products and other WLAN-enabled products at home," he added.

The TAEC chipset supports high-speed processing and handling of analog and digital sources combined with low power operation. The baseband large scale integration (LSI), designated TC35672, integrates a dedicated circuit that can purportedly process data transferred at 54 megabytes per second, and 10-bit analog-to-digital and digital-to-analog converters that operate at 40MHz.

The chipset supports the CardBus interface and allows integration of Personal Computer Memory Card International Association (PCMCIA) based devices, such as PCI cards, access points, personal computers and personal digital assistants, according to TAEC. Meanwhile, Toshiba is developing an RF IC that includes blocks for a mixer, low noise amplifier, and phase-locked loop (PLL), power amplifier and switch.

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Dennis Sellers

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