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A New Mobile Wi-Fi Chip, Better in Every Way

Faster, smaller, more transmission power, less battery power.  In a few words, that describes the Atheros AR6003, a recently released 802.11n Wi-Fi chip for cell phone and other handheld mobile applications.  But that doesn’t tell the whole story.  The AR6003 is leaps and bounds ahead of even the previous industry-leading Atheros AR6002 mobile Wi-Fi chip. Faster:  The AR6003 is a one-stream 802.11n chip, backwards compatible to 802.11g.  It is capable of transmitting data at up to 85Mbs TCP/IP in the 5GHz band/40 MHz mode and up to 48Mbs TCP/IP in the 2.4GHz/20MHz mode.  That means that it can support media-rich applications on cell phones or other mobile devices. Smaller:  The AR6003 is only 5mm X 5mm, 50% smaller than the previous world’s smallest mobile Wi-Fi chip, the Atheros AR6002. More Transmission Power:  The AR6002 uses an on-chip CMOS PA to provide 19dBm of transmission power.  That’s power on a par with Wi-Fi routers, which eliminates a problem.  Many mobile Wi-Fi chips can receive signals from Wi-Fi routers at a range beyond the point where they have enough transmitting power to respond.  The AR6003 can respond at points up to a router’s maximum range. Less Battery Power:  The AR6003 needs only 0.45mA when connected and 57mA when active.  That’s 20% less current than the AR6002, which had been the lowest power chip available.  In addition, the AR6003 has on-chip power management circuitry so that it can be connected directly to a battery. Semico Spin Why do cell phones need Wi-Fi capability?  Until recently, the cell phone providers wanted to provide data transfer capabilities on the cellular network.  The intention was to charge for the minutes.  But, the business model has changed.  The cell phone providers have been forced to provide data at a flat rate, to match the rates of cable or DSL providers.  Data transmission from a cell phone customer’s PC to their cell phone only clogs up the cell phone pipeline, with no benefit to the cell phone provider.  The providers, therefore, are only too happy to include a Wi-Fi capability in the cell phones they offer. This Spin has placed a good deal of emphasis on the technical specifications of the Atheros AR6003.  That’s because the chip provides an extraordinary increase in performance.  When a chip offers greatly increased performance in a smaller, lower-power package, what’s not to like?