Two Vendors Claim 'First' Pre-Standard 802.11n Chipsets

An IEEE working group this week approved a draft specification for 802.lln, which will provide, at the very least, Ethernet-like speeds and a host of other improvements to the current 802.11g Wi-Fi standard. Final ratification of the standard could come later this year.

After approval of the draft specification, both Broadcom and Marvel claimed they were ready to ship Wi-Fi chipsets that adhered to the pending standard. Those chips, in turn, will enable WLAN equipment and consumer electronics vendors to offer pre-standard routers, access points, adapters and devices with embedded Wi-Fi connectivity.

Neither Marvell nor Broadcom speculated about when equipment using their chipsets might appear in the marketplace.

Marvel said its 88W836x chipsets are aimed at inclusion in cell phones and consumer devices and will provide wireless speeds between 300 Mbps and 600 Mbps and will support Ethernet speeds as high as 1 Gbps. In addition, like Broadcom, the company also offers chipsets aimed at WLAN equipment.

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Like Marvell, Broadcom said it has developed reference designs to help equipment vendors more quickly develop products using the chipsets.

The draft specification is often referred to as a "technical foundation" for the new standard, although specifics can change between now and final ratification. Most equipment vendors, however, enable users of pre-standard equipment to upgrade to the fully-ratified and certified standard.