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Metalink Demos 802.11n
Enterprises In No Hurry for 802.11n Adoption
Marvell Says N Chips Marvelous
Brinksmanship in 802.11n
A Technical Grounding in MIMO
Breaking News: 802.11n Draft 1.0 Approved
NetGear Declares 600 Mbps By June

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« February 2006 | Main | April 2006 »

March 27, 2006

Metalink Demos 802.11n

By Glenn Fleishman

The company has shown live demonstrations of HDTV streaming video using its upcoming WLANPlus chipset: The firm was pushing the home entertainment aspect of 802.11n, combining quality of service—which prioritizes some data over other data—and high-bandwidth with long range to stream multiple high-definition signals. The press release quotes reliable research firm ABI noting a 10fold expected increase of Wi-Fi embedded in consumer electronics from about seven million devices in 2004 to 70 million in 2007. Metalink has a partnership with Haier, the giant Chinese CE maker.

The company claims the ability to offer multiple HD streams within a radius of 100 feet. They mention channel bonding and 5 GHz, which indicates a smart use of unused frequencies that, even with poorer propagation characteristics—5 GHz photons don’t penetrate as far with the same input power as 2.4 GHz photons—can provide a good range.

Posted by Glennf at 2:15 PM | Comments (0)

March 24, 2006

Enterprises In No Hurry for 802.11n Adoption

By Glenn Fleishman

Large-scale Wi-Fi network operators in corporate and academic worlds bearish on N in short-term: These kinds of users need to see real improvements and good-neighbor operations before adopting 802.11n, as it doesn’t offer any real advantages in the short-term over their current networks.

The IT director at Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh, New York, is quoted as wanting to see test results. They’re an interesting case. I spoke to them three years ago because they were a very early WLAN deployer using RangeLAN (2 Mbps) equipment in the late 1990s. They moved from RangeLAN to 802.11a because it offered much higher speeds and less interference even though it seemed a strange move at the time and requiring users to purchase 802.11a or a/g cards for use on the campus network.

Posted by Glennf at 10:24 AM | Comments (0)

March 21, 2006

Marvell Says N Chips Marvelous

By Glenn Fleishman

Paul Callahan updates his report on 802.11n silicon: He had earlier noted credible first-person reports that Marvell’s upcoming 802.11n chips were performing quite poorly in early testing. Marvell rebutted that to him, stating that they have chips in production (not just sampling or small quantities for testing), that performance is fine, and that consumer devices like gateways will sport the chips—not just specialized products.

Proof is in the pudding, of course, but the pudding should be out of the oven and in the fridge within a few weeks.

Posted by Glennf at 1:11 PM | Comments (0)

March 15, 2006

Brinksmanship in 802.11n

By Glenn Fleishman

A game is being played with announcements from Task Group N: Yes, there is unity. Of a sort. In an interview last week, Atheros’s chief technology officer said the Draft 1.0 accepted by Task Group (which will eventually produce the 802.11n next-generation standard to move Wi-Fi forward) was essentially complete with small details to work out. He said there was a very small risk that major changes would be required. Bill Bunch, director of product marketing at Broadcom, confirmed that view in an interview Wednesday morning.

Read the rest of this article at Wi-Fi Neworking News; it’s important enough that I’ve posted it on the general site.

Posted by Glennf at 11:04 AM | Comments (0)

March 14, 2006

A Technical Grounding in MIMO

By Glenn Fleishman

EE Times offers a long tutorial in MIMO: This three-page online article spells out the various methods by which multiple antennas are used to achieve distance, robustness, and increase throughput by making use of multipath reflection, multiple spatial streams, and beam forming. For instance, MIMO could be used to increase distance through beam forming, which improves signal clarity to a particular receiver. This was the key technology underlying the Vivato switch, by the way.

Spatial multiplexing allows multiple streams of data to simultaneously use the same frequencies in the same space by following different spatial paths that a receiver can differentiate. Robustness can be achieved by sending the same data over multiple paths improving the chances of reception without error.

The writer concludes that MIMO will find its way into all RF designs because of the many ways in which it can improve the efficiency and utility of spectrum.

Posted by Glennf at 1:49 PM | Comments (0)

March 10, 2006

Breaking News: 802.11n Draft 1.0 Approved

By Glenn Fleishman

The IEEE approved draft 1.0 of 802.11n yesterday: The IEEE voted in January to accept a proposal—largely that of the Enhanced Wireless Consortium with some changes—as a pre-1.0 draft. That near-unanimous vote was the first step in finalizing 802.11n, which has been under discussion for years and which appeared to be heading to a deadlock. The EWC proposal was quietly built by four chipmakers—Atheros, Broadcom, Intel, and Marvell—and then sold back into a joint proposal group that was trying to harmonize competing efforts.

That work paid off given the quick approval of Draft 1.0. This first fully numbered draft had only very minor technical changes from the proposal that was accepted as the 0.1 draft in January, according to Atheros’s chief technology officer Bill McFarland. In an interview this morning, McFarland said that changes were primarily to conform to IEEE editorial style, including adding detailed appendixes and some clarifying text. “The draft was evaluated by the group as being complete, technically very sound, and in shape where it could potentially be the exact final standard,” McFarland said. That doesn’t mean it will be adopted as is—that’s very unlikely—but it has the form and detail of a final draft.

McFarland said that the proposal will now be sent out for balloting among 802.11 Working Group members for a 40-day period. Ballots will vote up or down on accepting this draft, and will bring back comments and requests for changes. In the May meeting, those changes will be discussed, and some will be adopted and others not. If all goes well, a re-ballot will happen following a similar course. In July, a final draft could win the day, which would then go on to a group of experts at a higher IEEE level who typically approve drafts—by the time they’ve reached this point, most technical and harmonization issues across 802 (networks) and 802.11 (wireless networks) have been settled.

Meanwhile, manufacturers will probably start firing up the silicon ovens. McFarland said that Atheros was already in sampling, and it was very encouraging that “In getting to this 1.0 draft very few technical changes needed to be made.” There is a very low risk, he said, of significant changes being made before a final draft is accepted that would require changes in silicon.

Inertia will set in, too, because so many chipmakers already are sampling or showing 802.11n designs to their customers. “As time goes on, all the major silicon providers have begun work on it so they prefer more and more there not be changes,” McFarland said.

Atheros is sampling draft 802.11n chips now. “We expect that you’ll be able to see products on the store shelves certainly by the middle of this year implementing this 1.0 draft,” McFarland said. Changes to the spec would be handled through firmware upgrades.

Posted by Glennf at 10:29 AM | Comments (0)

March 7, 2006

NetGear Declares 600 Mbps By June

By Glenn Fleishman

Qmark060307-1For some reason, NetGear decided to issue a press release about its upcoming 802.11n products: They claim they will have a 600 Mbps (raw) 802.11n device out in the first half of 2006 that will meet the in-progress spec, TechWorld reports. The 600 Mbps rate is raw speed using the maximum number of spatial streams, a 40 MHz-wide channel, and the largest antenna matrix. This should top 300 Mbps of real throughput.

The press release doesn’t say NetGear guarantees that their draft 802.11n devices will be upgradable to the full version. Understatement by me follows: One would expect forward compatibility assurances. However, companies are reluctant to state such.

Can we have firms raise their hands: Who among you is willing to say that any draft 802.11n equipment shipped will be replaced if necessary to provide full, certifiable 802.11n compliance?

Posted by Glennf at 2:52 PM | Comments (0)