& cplSiteName &

Marvell Pours a WiFi Triple Shot

Craig Matsumoto
LR Mobile News Analysis
Craig Matsumoto
1/2/2008
50%
50%

Firing a pre-CES warning shot, Marvell Technology Group Ltd. (Nasdaq: MRVL) announced today a supposed triple-strength 802.11n chipset, a step that was inevitable but is drawing some skepticism from others.

Marvell is all excited because the TopDog 11n-450, as it's called, boasts three transmitters and three receivers and a 3x3 antenna array, as opposed to the 2x2 arrangment found on many competing chips.

If those three radios deliver three separate WiFi streams, that's a 50 percent advantage, giving Marvell a claimed 450-Mbit/s throughput versus the 300 Mbit/s on certain other chips. The bigger throughput requires having Marvell's chip on each end of a connection.

Thus continues a war of escalation created by the way 802.11n works. The standard uses multiple-input/multiple-output (MIMO) antenna schemes to get its higher throughput and better range. Chip makers are working their way up to 3x3 formations, and the standard allows for a 4x4 as well, so Marvell's announcement is an understandable step.

Of course, the 450-Mbit/s throughput is just theoretical. Plenty of factors would shave the real figure downward: the overhead associated with protocols like TCP, the quirks of the physical surroundings, or the difficulty of processing high-definition video.

It's the first product to claim the 450-Mbit/s mark, but it's not the first 3x3 chipset. Atheros Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: ATHR) made that claim two years ago. The difference is that Atheros chooses to work with only two data streams.

"We wanted that extra antenna for redundancy," says Bill McFarland, Atheros's chief technology officer. "We did a lot of study on this, and the statistics are really not in your favor doing three streams in a 3x3 situation."

That's because wireless transmissions can be a crap shoot. In fact, McFarland likens it to rolling dice. Given three dice, it's easier to roll two sixes than to try to roll three -- you've got a backup in case one fails -- as any good Risk geek can testify.

So, Atheros isn't interested in matching Marvell's 450-Mbit/s ante. Neither is Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM), according to Mike Hurlston, vice president and general manager of that company's wireless LAN unit.

"Our view is that the most important thing to stimulate 802.11n demand is really cost. Where we've focused our energy is on bringing the cost down on a basic 802.11n offering," Hurlston says.

Rather than add transmission streams, Broadcom -- and Atheros -- have been more interested in boiling 802.11n down to a single chip. (See Broadcom Intros One-Chip 802.11n.)

Higher throughput could be of use in sending multimedia around the home -- one of the presumed drivers of future 802.11n demand. But Broadcom would rather revive the idea of using the 5 GHz spectrum of 802.11a.

"We're going to talk about that at CES. A number of our customers have introduced dual-band" products, Hurlston says.

In any case, more radios don't necessarily equate to higher bandwidth in real-world conditions.

"Just going to more streams and more radios doesn't necessarily help you get better worst-case performance, which is really what matters," says Steve Martin, vice president of engineering for systems vendor Ruckus Wireless Inc. (NYSE: RKUS)

There's some self-interest there, as Ruckus claims its directional antenna technology can make wireless LAN more reliable. (Ruckus uses Atheros chips, incidentally.) Still, multiple streams create complexity, as WiFi transmissions "get finicky the more streams you have," Martin says.

Martin doesn't see much play for a 3x3 chip in enterprise or carrier settings yet -- but retail could be another matter, and might be where Marvell's customers will point the product first. "Consumers will buy that stuff because there's a bigger number on the box," he contends.

Marvell didn't return a call requesting comment.

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

(0)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Light Readingís Upskill U is a FREE, interactive, online educational resource that delivers must-have education on themes that relate to the overall business transformation taking place in the communications industry.
LIVE NOW!
Friday, December 2, 1:00PM EST
The SDN Approach to IP & Optical Integration
Sterling Perrin, Senior Analyst, Heavy Reading
UPCOMING COURSE SCHEDULE
Friday, December 2, 1:00PM EST
The SDN Approach to IP & Optical Integration
Sterling Perrin, Senior Analyst, Heavy Reading
in association with:
From The Founder
Light Reading today starts a new voyage as part of a larger Enterprise.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Charting the CSP's Future
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it's going from two industry veterans.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Korn Ferry Consultant: How to Find, Cultivate & Be the Best Talent

11|30|16   |   4:10   |   (1) comment


Erin Callaghan, a managing consultant for Korn Ferry Futurestep, shares strategies for companies to improve how they recruit and for women to ensure they don't get lost in the pipeline.
LRTV Custom TV
We Can Make the World More Sustainable

11|29|16   |     |   (0) comments


GeSI is a global e-Sustainability Initiative organization bringing together 40 big multinational companies around the world. According to GeSI's report, information and communication technology can make the world more sustainable. Luis Neves, chairman of GeSI, shared with us his opinion at Ultra-broadband Forum (UBBF2016).
LRTV Custom TV
Finding a New Way to Engage Customers & Drive Revenue

11|29|16   |     |   (0) comments


Mobile revenues are declining. Digicel, a player in the Caribbean telecommunications/entertainment space, has found a new way to engage customers and drive revenue. John Quinn, CTO of Digicel, shared with us its story at Ultra-broadband Forum (UBBF2016)
LRTV Custom TV
Do You Really Need Gigabit Infrastructure?

11|29|16   |     |   (0) comments


Altibox is the biggest fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) player and the largest provider of video and TV in Norway. They started out with zero customers in 2002. Now they have close to half a million households and companies attached to their FTTH business. Nils Arne, CEO of Altibox shared with us their story and insight on 5G at Ultra-broadband Forum (UBBF2016).
LRTV Custom TV
BTís Openreach Strategy & Its Updates in 2016

11|29|16   |     |   (0) comments


A lot of developments at Openreach this year in terms of strategy and planned investments. Peter Bell, CIO of Openreach BT, shared with us the updates of Openreach at Ultra-broadband Forum (UBBF2016).
LRTV Custom TV
ITU: The Broadband Is Our Future

11|29|16   |     |   (0) comments


At Ultra-broadband Forum, Houlin Zhao, Secretary General of ITU, discussed how important it is for countries, companies and everybody to be working together to help to build the broadband and digital economies (UBBF2016).
LRTV Custom TV
Tackling 5G in Dallas

11|28|16   |     |   (0) comments


Here are our highlights of the 5G North America show in Dallas, Texas with Light Reading's Dan Jones.
LRTV Interviews
Cox Prepping for Virtualization Trials

11|14|16   |     |   (0) comments


In this video interview, Cox's Jeff Finkelstein discusses MSO's plans to test managed business services in early 2017 and tackle Distributed Access Architectures.
LRTV Custom TV
Drivers & Potential of NGP

11|11|16   |     |   (0) comments


ETSI has created an Industry Specification Group to work on Next Generation Protocols (NGP ISG), looking at evolving communications and networking protocols to provide the scale, security, mobility and ease of deployment required for the connected society of the 21st century. The NGP ISG will identify the requirements for next generation protocols and network ...
LRTV Custom TV
Huawei IP 2020 for Future Networks

11|11|16   |     |   (0) comments


Future Networks should satisfy many requirements such as high throughput, extremely low latency, flexible mobility, intrinsic security, networking automation, and so forth. The Chief Architect of Huawei Future Networks addresses a holistic solution, i.e., IP 2020, to achieve these requirements for various future life scenarios (e.g., autonomous driving, tactile ...
LRTV Custom TV
Digital Object Architecture

11|11|16   |     |   (0) comments


Digital Object Architecture provides a basic information infrastructure that can facilitate interoperability between or among different systems, processes, and other information resources, including different identity management systems. Digital objects are networked objects that are named by digital object identifiers and instantiated by an infrastructure service ...
LRTV Custom TV
BT's Openreach Has High Hopes for Long-Reach VDSL

11|11|16   |   06:04   |   (0) comments


Peter Bell, Network Portfolio CIO at BT's access business Openreach, talks about the operator's trial of a new broadband access technology called Long Reach VDSL.
Upcoming Live Events
December 6-8, 2016, The Westin Excelsior, Rome
May 16-17, 2017, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
Hot Topics
AT&T Debuts DirecTV Now on New Video Platform
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 11/28/2016
Apple Seeds 5G? Seeks 'Multi-Gigabit' Chip Designer
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 11/30/2016
Altice Plans FTTH for Entire US Footprint
Iain Morris, News Editor, 11/30/2016
Altice FTTH Bill Could Hit Almost $9.6B in US
Iain Morris, News Editor, 12/1/2016
Samsung Bows to Investors, Considers Revamp
Iain Morris, News Editor, 11/29/2016
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Eyal Waldman, CEO of Mellanox Technologies, speaks to Steve Saunders, CEO of Light Reading, for an exclusive interview about the 100 GB cable challenge, cybersecurity and much more.
Join us for an in-depth interview between Steve Saunders of Light Reading and Alexis Black Bjorlin of Intel as they discuss the release of the company's Silicon Photonics platform, its performance, long-term prospects, customer expectations and much more.
Live Digital Audio

Even when there's a strong pipeline of female talent in the comms industry, it tends to leak all the way to the top. McKinsey & Company says women experience pipeline leakage at three primary points: being unable to enter, being stuck in the middle or being locked out of the top. Each pipeline pain point presents its own challenges, but also opportunities to stop the leak. Wireless operator Sprint is making a conscious effort to improve its own pipeline from new recruits to the C-suite, and it wants the rest of the industry to do the same. In this Women in Comms radio show, WiC Board Member and Sprint Vice President of Enterprise Sales Nelly Pitocco will give us her take on the industry's pipeline challenges. Pitocco, who joined Sprint in May and has spent 20 years in the comms industry, will also offer solutions, share how Sprint is tackling the challenge within its own organization and take your questions live on air.