Comms chips

Accton Fires Up Engim

One of the largest manufacturers of business-class access points in the world, Accton Technology Corp., will introduce products based on the chipset from startup Engim Inc. next year, as part of a plan to incorporate more RF management technology on its boxes.

The manufacturer, which doesn't sell any products under its own brand but supplies many of the leading networking companies with wired and wireless kit, is planning to introduce a new line of high-speed, high-capacity products using the Engim chipset (see Engim Drives Multi Chipsets for more on the speeds 'n' feeds of this chip).

Roger Sands, northeast operations manager for Accton, says that the firm will also add software to its existing product line that handles such tasks as rogue AP detection and RF channel management. "We're going to be providing a family of services and features in the first quarter of next year," says Sands.

The Engim chip will be used as the, er, engine for multi-channel access points that can detect radio interference outside of the normal scope of 802.11 systems. Specifically, Sands says, the chipset also has an additional signaling channel that be used to listen for sources of interference common on the 2.4GHz band used by 802.11b and g radios, such as emissions from microwave ovens, and signal noise from Bluetooth radios and those stoopid little wireless cameras (see Pop-Up Pariahs).

Engim's VP of marketing, Scott Lindsay, explains that Accton has developed management software that takes this signaling information and tells the access point – or the network it's connected to – how to act on [ed. note: geddit?] the basis of that data (i.e, change radio channels).

Lindsay claims that – aside from being integrated into the access point – what makes this different from the many handheld and integrated 802.11 monitoring systems on the market is that it can recognize the "spectral signatures" of potential sources of interference and map them out for the network administrator.

The datasheet for the latest version of AirMagnet Inc.'s handheld monitoring tool can alert network administrators "if a channel is experiencing interference from an unknown source."

Sands says that Accton, which first started shipping enterprise access points in December 2002, is looking at these kinds of additions to its product line as way of keeping margins up.

— Dan Jones, Senior Editor, Unstrung

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