Comms chips

Broadcom Waffles on G Spot

Wireless LAN chipmaker Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM) appears in no hurry to follow rival Atheros Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: ATHR) into the 802.11g (54-Mbit/s over 2.4 GHz) single chip market.

Last week Atheros started shipping what it claims is the industry’s first 802.11g single chip, combining radio, logic and memory elements, plus a power amplifier, on a single piece of silicon (see Atheros Claims Chip First).

Single-chip systems can help to reduce the power consumption of 802.11 systems and are critical for battery-powered devices such as cellphones. Because they are smaller and use less material than two or three chip boards, silicon vendors can usually keep prices down for lower-cost applications. This is also an important consideration in the cost-sensitive 802.11 market.

In its first-quarter earnings call last month, Broadcom claimed that its 802.11g single chip is “back from the foundry and up and running,” and is currently being demonstrated to customers.

Despite such statements, the vendor’s European product line manager, Gordon Lindsay, states that no launch date has yet been set.

“There is no schedule of announcement planned,” Lindsay tells Unstrung during a demo of its latest security software product (see Broadcom Claims Simpler WiFi).

Broadcom’s relaxed stance is surprising, given how aggressively it launched its initial single-chip WiFi product. Last year the vendor touted the "world's first” 802.11b (11 Mbit/s over 2.4Hz) single chip (see Broadcom Ships WiFi Chip).

— Justin Springham, Senior Editor, Europe, Unstrung

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