Marvell’s new 802.11n chipset hits 450Mbps

Semiconductor vendor introduces 450Mbps 3x3 wireless chipset

Chip-maker Marvell Technology Group has unveiled a new, high-end 802.11n Draft 2 chipset targeting a range of networking and multimedia products that can put to good use the 450Mbps data rate the wireless chips deliver.

Unusually, the new silicon, dubbed TopDog 11n-450, supports sending and receiving three "spatial streams." A stream of data is encoded into three substreams, each transmitted by a separate antenna in a technique called multiple-input multiple-output. These multiple streams, ideally coupled with the signal-reflection phenomenon called multipath, is what makes possible the jump from Wi-Fi's top data rate today of 54Mbps.

TopDog will be demonstrated at Marvell's booth, Number 30651 in South Hall, at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) next week in Las Vegas.

Most of the Draft 2 and earlier 802.11n silicon devices support the cost-effective, two-antenna configuration dubbed 2x2. Marvell is one of the few with an announced 3x3 configuration, which can add 150 Mbps to the data rate, as well as boost the range, reliability and resiliency of the signal.

In addition, the media-access-control and radio-frequency chips are fashioned in 90-nanometer, complementary metal–oxide–semiconductor chip fabrication. The result is smaller and less expensive silicon. The new chipset is only slightly more expensive than rival products that are considerably slower, says Sameer Bidichandani, senior director of technology strategy with Marvell, in Santa Clara, Calif.

The new chipset delivers User Data Protocol throughput of about 220M to 340Mbps, compared to 200M to 210Mbps for rival products, according to Bidichandani.

Marvell is competing with Atheros Communications and Broadcom in the emerging 802.11n space. Most wireless LAN vendors have announced and are starting to ship Wi-Fi Alliance-certified Draft 2 products in the consumer and small office/home office market and, surprisingly, the enterprise market (compare enterprise WLAN products). 

Consumer electronics increasingly is turning to wireless technologies, notably Ultra Wideband and now 802.11n, for networking easily a growing array of devices from handhelds to network storage to flat-panel television screens. Marvell's earlier generation of 802.11n chips were featured in 2007 in set-top boxes with Samsung 50- and 58-inch flat-panel TVs, enabling PCs and other clients to send and display content wirelessly.

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