Broadcom introduces combo 802.11n chip

The chip integrates 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and FM radio into a single silicon die, a move designed to expand the range of features available in mid-range mobile-phone handsets.

Broadcom on Monday announced a chip integrating 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and FM radio into a single silicon die, a move designed to expand the range of features available in mid-range mobile-phone handsets.

Broadcom

The introduction of the BCM4329 was motivated in part by the increased popularity of Wi-Fi in mid-range "feature phones," Broadcom said. It added that this growth is due in turn to the integration of cameras, browsers, and audio capabilities into more handsets, which is driving a need for transferring data and media between handsets and other electronics such as TVs, PCs, printers, remote speakers, and car stereos.

The chip is one of the first to offer the 802.11n Wi-Fi standard in a package suitable for mobile devices. It promises wireless throughput of up to 50Mbps, allowing large files to be transferred quickly, Broadcom said.

Broadcom's chip uses single-stream 802.11n, because the space, battery power and processing power restrictions in mobile devices would not support the multiple-antenna implementation used in larger 802.11n devices, according to the company. Even so, Broadcom said the single-stream design delivers faster and more reliable wireless connections than current 802.11g products.

The chip uses space-time block coding (STBC), a feature designed to improve connection robustness. It also has dual-band 802.11n capabilities, meaning handset owners can use the less-crowded 5GHz spectrum for applications that require faster guaranteed bandwidth.

In addition, the chip's FM transmit and receive capabilities are intended to allow music to be streamed directly from media players or mobile phones to car stereos or home stereo systems.

The chip's Bluetooth implementation includes algorithms intended to improve the co-existence of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, and also uses a shared antenna system to minimize interference between the two technologies.

Integrating all the technologies on to a single die takes up less space and power than discrete chip implementations, Broadcom said.

The company's previous combination chips include the BCM4325, integrating Bluetooth, FM radio, and an earlier generation of Wi-Fi, and the BCM2049 Bluetooth/FM chip.

The chip is currently shipping in small quantities to some customers and will be manufactured in production quantities next year, Broadcom said.

Matthew Broersma of ZDNet UK reported from London.

 

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