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Comms chips

Intel's A Train Arrives (At Last)

Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) has finally made available a twice-delayed add-on for the Centrino wireless LAN chipset that will enable it to support both the original 802.11b (11 Mbit/s over 2.4GHz) specification and the newer 802.11a (54 Mbit/s over 5GHz) variant.

However, industry watchers suggest that the real significant launch for the chipmaker will be its 802.11g (54 Mbit/s over 2.4GHz) next year (see Intel's Chafing Chipsets ). The g has been the fastest growing sector of the WLAN silicon market since before the specification was even ratified (see Dell'Oro: 802.11 Kit up 1%). Major Intel rivals like Atheros Communications Inc. and Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM) have been shipping so-called multimode (a/b/g) chipsets (see Atheros First With Multimode and Agere, Broadcom Blitz 802.11g ) for at least a year now.

As Unstrung reported back in March, the delays to Intel's a component stem from the firm's decision to develop its own 5GHz radio (see Intel's Radio Follies). The firm sourced its b radio components from Royal Philips Electronics N.V. (NYSE: PHG; Amsterdam: PHI) but said that developing its own a radio would help it to shrink multi-component WLAN systems onto a single chip in the future.

Intel says it's taking the home-grown route for its g radio as well (see Centrino Adds A, Not G). There are said to be up to 500 staff now working on 802.11 at the company.

— Dan Jones, Senior Editor, Unstrung

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