Marvell Joins 802.11g Throng

Marvell Technology Group Ltd. (Nasdaq: MRVL) had a busy Monday. Not only was it named partner in Cisco Systems Inc.'s (Nasdaq: CSCO) latest foray into the wireless world, but it also launched itself into the emerging high-speed 802.11g market to boot (see Marvell Offers 802.11g and Cisco Bolsters Its WLAN Hand).

802.11g, a soon-to-be-standardized, high-speed, wireless LAN technology (see 802.11g Approval Coming June) that offers over-the-air access speeds of up to 54 Mbit/s, is already being offered by a number of vendors (see Linksys Ramps Up 802.11g and Envara Envisions 802.11g). It is regarded as the natural successor to the very popular 802.11b standard that accounts for about 95 percent of products shipped at present (see 802.11 WLAN Shipments Double), as it is faster than b (up to 11 Mbit/s) and uses the same spectrum of 2.4 GHz.

The other 802.11 flavor already approved by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc. (IEEE), 802.11a, also offers up to 54 Mbit/s, but works in the 5GHz range that is less commonly available for use.

Marvell, which will be discussed in the upcoming Unstrung Webinar on wireless chip developments, says its products will be compatible with 802.11b and offer security and quality-of-service features that will enable high-speed applications such as streaming video.

But if 802.11g is not yet an agreed-upon standard, isn't Marvell, along with the others in the advance g brigade, tempting fate with its chipset designs? Not so, says IDC analyst Ken Furer. The chips are software-upgradeable so that, as the standard evolves and specifications are tweaked [ed note: OUCH!!], the silicon can be upgraded with a new software download rather than ripped out and replaced. "This is what these companies need to do while a standard is still being developed, and we know there are still some issues to be resolved with 802.11g, especially in terms of interoperability with 802.11b," adds the IDC man.

Indeed. We had heard about the odd problem or two (see Interop Woes Smite 802.11g).

— Ray Le Maistre, European Editor, Unstrung

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