Tim Higgins has a comprehensive Networld + Interop: Vegas 2003 Report and new product highlights. Among the bigger announcements was Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) support from Atheros, Intersil, Broadcom, Intel, Cisco, and Symbol. The final IEEE spec (802.11i), will be called WPA2 when it finally hits the market late this year/ early next.
WPA2 will keep WPA’s authentication and encryption key management features and add stronger AES-based encryption. Tim warns the upgrade path to WPA2 will be limited to products based on wireless chipsets with built-in encryption engines. Most likely, only 802.11b/g and a/b/g products will be WPA2 compatable for upgrades.
Increased speed for Wi-Fi chips was another major development.
Wi-Fi chipmaker Atheros announced jackpot performance at the Las Vegas, Networld+Interop Conference on Wednesday. Their new Super G and Super A/G chips are rated at 108Mbps, using real-time hardware data compression, standards-compliant bursting, and dynamic transmit and modulation optimizations.
Atheros claims to deliver 90 Mbps TCP/IP throughput in 802.11a/g and 802.11g Wireless LANs using its chips while maintaining backward compatibility. How do they do it? 802.11 Planet has the story.
The new 108Mbps data rate design upgrades the original Atheros Turbo Mode and is based on applying innovations from the 802.11g draft standard to enable the higher speeds while maintaining backwards compatibility. It enables data rates up to 108Mbps for 802.11g and 802.11a with full backward compatibility and interoperability with conventional 802.11a, 802.11b or 802.11g (Draft 8.1) products.
It allows the same access point, gateway or client card to simultaneously support 108Mbps 802.11a/g, 54Mbps 802.11a/g, and 11Mbps 802.11b communications. Super G and Super A/G make Wi-Fi easier by allowing users to use networks from 11 Mbps to 108 Mbps without configuring their equipment for a particular type of wireless technology.
Real-time Data Compression is part of the deal.
An Adaptive Hardware Compression Engine is embedded in all current Atheros chipsets. The hardware analyzes network traffic and compresses it in real time using the reliable, standards-based algorithms employed by popular data compression software. With mixed network traffic, the Hardware Compression Engine provides 10 to 30 percent additional throughput.
Standards-Compliant Bursting Capability gives it a boost.
The Atheros “Super” chips enable a standards-compliant bursting capability. It adjusts data frame, acknowledgement and response parameters according to the number of users, level of wireless activity, and other network conditions.
Dynamic Transmit and Modulation Optimizations burn a hole.
Based on measurements of the RF environment, the designs dynamically optimize transmit timings and adjust modulation parameters to improve 802.11a/g communications. Atheros says it increases the multipath resistance while enabling the use of higher modulation and coding rates – and effective throughput.
Atheros claims the Super G and Super A/G designs deliver over 90Mbps TCP/IP throughput for network traffic consisting of compressible data. With less compressible traffic, throughput may be reduced to 70Mbps. Products featuring Super G and Super A/G capabilities operate transparently to the end user and are compatible with all Wi-Fi CERTIFIED products.
The Atheros AR5001G (802.11b/g) chipset and the AR5001X+ (802.11a/b/g) chipset are in volume production and available in products today from OEMs. Atheros-based products are Wi-Fi CERTIFIED, and support the latest 802.11g Draft (8.1 standards). The new Super G and Super A/G performance enhancements are activated through driver upgrades available to Atheros customers this quarter.
Atheros chipsets are used by Proxim’s ORiNOCO Gold and Silver ComboCards, SYMBOL multimode access points, Netgear, D-Link and others.
Atheros competitor Intersil, also announced a software upgrade called Nitro for its own single mode PRISM GT and the dual-mode 802.11a/g PRISM Duette. It uses a burst mode to push speeds to 30Mbps in real-world use.