Atheros “Rearchitects“ the Radio; “Radio-on-a-Chip“ Shatters Wireless LAN Price/Performance Barrier

SUNNYVALE, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Sept. 18, 2000--Atheros Communications today announced a new chipset based on its fundamental rearchitecture of the radio to offer standards-based, high-speed, low-cost wireless local area network (LAN) connections within offices and homes.

The fast, low-powered Atheros(TM) AR5000 chipset delivers true "radio-on-a-chip" (RoC) capabilities and represents a breakthrough over existing wireless chipset technologies that offer lower performance and are far more complex and expensive. The highly integrated Atheros technology provides the first two-chip, all-CMOS end-to-end solution (eliminating the expense of a separate power amplifier, SAW filter, or MAC) for next-generation 5-GHz wireless LANs.

Operating at speeds up to 72 Mbps, the Atheros AR5000 chipset is priced below today's less-capable 11 Mbps chipsets that sell in volume for $35 or more. The introduction of the Atheros AR5000 product enables ubiquitous, economical connections in the office and home between devices like personal computers, printers and "Access Points"--which are gateways for connecting wireless users to a wired infrastructure such as a corporate backbone, or a DSL or cable modem in the home. The AR5000 solution will also afford economical placement of these Access Points in airports and hotels, providing travelers with high-speed connections to the Internet.

In the future, customers will leverage Atheros' breakthrough RoC technology to offer scalable, transparent connections for all information and entertainment appliances including modems, set-top boxes, satellite dishes, remote controls, telephones, televisions, PCs, CD players, VCRs, DVD players and other devices, which today are largely unable to communicate or work with each other.

The Atheros AR5000 chipset, operating at up to 54 Mbps, is compliant with the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) new 802.11a 5-GHz wireless LAN standard--representing a five times improvement in data rates over the 2.4-GHz standard currently shipping. The chipset also includes an enhanced "turbo mode" that supports speeds up to 72 Mbps and extended ranges.

"Our RoC solution enables the creation of powerful and flexible voice and data wireless networks at unprecedented price-points," said Rich Redelfs, president and CEO of the two-year-old Atheros. "It cuts through the Gordian Knot of twisted-pair wiring, enabling the wireless LAN to take its rightful place in the office and home as the preferred connectivity solution."

"Atheros has stepped back and fundamentally rearchitected radio design," explained Dr. John Hennessy, board chair of Atheros, a pioneer in the development of RISC chip technology, and the recently named president of Stanford University. "When Professor Teresa Meng came to me with her concept for a simple and fast radio architecture in 1998, it was clear that it could impact radio technology in the same way that simple and fast RISC technology redefined microprocessing." This meeting led to the creation of Atheros, and the beginning of the productization of a new concept in radio/wireless technology.

Atheros' technology breakthrough enables the shrinking of what were three- and four-chip 11 Mbps solutions into a higher-speed two-chip set that can fit on a single side of a credit-card-sized PC Card. This technology helps cut materials and manufacturing costs drastically. By "starting with a clean sheet of paper," Atheros has been able to take a fundamentally fresh look at the way radio frequency (RF) components work with each other. This systems approach has enabled Atheros to implement a series of innovations such as the integration of the power amplifier, and the elimination of SAW filters and other components that conventional RF wisdom suggested needed to be separate. The end result is a hig