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Wireless chip integrates .11n, Bluetooth, FM

Posted: 10 Dec 2008     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:wireless chip  802.11n  Bluetooth  FM 

Broadcom Corp. has unveiled a new combo chip for mobile devices that is the first to integrate single-stream 802.11n, Bluetooth and FM receive and transmit capabilities. The new wireless chip is part of an expanding portfolio of wireless combo devices aimed at mobile systems such as cell phones and portable media players.

Separately, the company said it will show at the Consumer Electronics Show in January new capabilities for scaling low-resolution video on HDTV sets.

Broadcom said the BCM4329, is its smallest dual-band Wi-Fi device at 75mm 2, as well as its lowest in power consumption. It can deliver up to 50Mbpsecond of TCP throughput for fast data transfers over Wi-Fi—about twice the rate of existing .11g handset chips—and supports FM transmit for streaming music from a handheld device to a car or home stereo.

The chip expands Broadcom's existing slate of wireless combo devices. The company has said it will roll out new wireless combo chips every 60 days. Future devices will include functions such as GPS, Near Field Communications, Bluetooth-over-Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi peer-to-peer links.

"The combos let OEMs provide a spectrum of capabilities in their handset designs," said Clint Brown, director of business development for embedded wireless LAN chips at Broadcom.

By 2012, nearly one-third of all wireless devices are expected to use chips that combine support for different wireless links, according to some analysts. In terms of Wi-Fi in cell phones, "we are looking at as much as 10 per cent attach rate next year and doubling that by 2012," said Brown.

The BCM4329 includes common memory and power management blocks shared by all three wireless links. It also sports a 2.4 GHz power amplifier and low noise amp shared by separate Bluetooth and .11n cores.

At 2.4 GHz, the Bluetooth and Wi-Fi blocks also share a common antenna. An external switch chip stands between the combo device and the 2.4 GHz antenna to arbitrate Bluetooth and Wi-Fi traffic in both receive and transmit mode.

Brown said Texas Instruments has a competing device that integrates Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and FM. However, uses separate power management and power amp chips, he said.

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