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Video54’s now Ruckus Wireless and is focusing on video: The company creates overlay chips and antennas that allow beamforming with spatial diversity—not exactly the spatial multiplexing of Airgo’s MIMO, but it still packs a bunch, as seen in the NetGear hardware that incorporates its first-generation technology overlayed on an Atheros chipset.
Ruckus will focus on video and has built quality-of-service (QoS) prioritization into its systems so that spatial paths can be blended with QoS to give video streams and signal paths greater priority for clearer signals. Their method is not identical to the still-in-progress 802.11e—it may be ratified this month—which has had bits and pieces turn into software and firmware in shipping products. QoS is supposed to allow different kinds of data to have different priority on the same network to keep voice, video, and data flowing without glitches.
I’ll be curious how this plays out in heterogeneous networks with many kinds of 802.11a/b/g and proprietary extension adapters using Ruckus Wireless gateways. The company can offer certain kinds of efficiencies at the hub, but as with a lot of this newer multipath technology, equipping all computers and systems with the same technology produces the optimum results.
The company seems to be expecting its technology to be hook into home-entertainment components, allowing a digital video recorder to stream its video to a remote display, among other tasks.
Its first hardware products, a gateway and an adapter, have retail prices of $169 and $129, respectively.
Airgo announced its next-generation MIMO chips today: Airgo’s newest entry in the MIMO field will hit 240 Mbps of raw throughput when communicating among identical devices. The new chips are backwards compatible with 802.11a, b, and g, and previous Airgo-based devices. Actual throughput should be about 100 Mbps versus about 20 Mbps for plain 802.11g and 30 to 40 Mbps with various extensions and antenna technologies.
Airgo’s director of product marketing Dave Borison said in an interview that the third-generation chips will help wireless enter the consumer-electronics market for streaming video around the house. “These products will literally support multiple streams of HD [high-definition television] over an entire home,” Borison said. The higher speed also comes with a maintenance of higher speeds at greater distances than existing gear of any kind.
The new chips employ 40 megahertz (MHz) wide channels rather than the 20 MHz used for 802.11 standards. Unlike Atheros Turbo mode in Super G, the Airgo chips expand spectrum to adjacent channels, and make that decision by monitoring spectrum on a frame-by-frame basis. Older devices receive 20 MHz single-channel transmissions; compatible newer adapters accept 40 MHz as available using what they call Adaptive Channel Expansion. “They don’t create negative effects on” neighboring channels Borison said.
The 240 Mbps rate doesn’t include compression; it’s the raw symbol rate passed through the devices, Borison said. As with earlier Airgo gear, both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz are supported with 802.11a, b, and g compatibility.
While Airgo isn’t producing equipment that matches point for point either of the competing proposals in Task Group N (802.11n), some aspects of these new chips parallel general trends in the group.
Borison said Airgo is confident that their technical lead will continue for some time. “We’ve now got four or five years plus, three generations of commercially available silicon, ahead of any of our competitors that haven’t even launched their first generation,” he said. The new chips are in sampling now with manufacturers.
Other coverage: Reuters notes that the new chips will cost less than the current generation.
Mobile Pipeline loves Belkin’s G+MIMO gear: The newer, cheaper MIMO hardware from Belkin—based on Airgo’s second-generation MIMO chips—scores high in the analysis of this reviewer. Belkin downplayed this device in comparison with its so-called Pre-N (first-generation Airgo-based) equipment, but the reviewer finds that it performs as well or better. He recommends buying the $100 router but holding off on the PC Card to get enough of an advantage.
Linksys announced today it was shipping its version of this router, the WRT54GX2, with a street price of about $100.
Zyxel is the latest to introduce a MIMO gateway: Their device, the XtremeMIMO X-550—you can say the name with your lips clenched—uses Atheros’s AR5005VL MIMO chipset. The router supports Windows Connect Now for simpler connectivity using a USB flash drive. It includes WPA and WPA2 support.
The company has raised $132 million total, reports Unstrung: An analyst suggests that the money will ease short-term cash flow issues while they plow more into research and development.