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IEEE 1901-compliant PLC solution suits HD media apps

Posted: 27 Jan 2010     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:PLC  IEEE 1901 standard  IPTV  powerline communications 

Atheros Communications Inc. unveils the AR7400 chipset, touted to be the the first powerline communications (PLC) solution designed to comply with the IEEE 1901 draft standard. The chipset's faster processor, Gigabit Ethernet-ready high-speed host interface and enhanced analogue front end (AFE) are all optimised for streaming HD media applications. These enhancements enable much faster powerline connections using the home's "hidden network", its electrical wiring, the wired network backbone that reaches every room.

This fourth-generation powerline chipset, which will interoperate with both 1901- and HomePlug AV-based products, also offers standards-plus, extended spectrum operation to deliver more than 500Mbps PHY rates, a 2.5x improvement over currently deployed HomePlug AV products. Every room will be HD-capable with the boost of 50 per cent or more throughput. Thus it will enable service providers to deploy a higher performance class of entertainment-grade networks that ensure reliable IPTV transmissions and HD coverage throughout the home, while virtually eliminating costly trouble shooting and service calls. Retail equipment manufacturers will also benefit from products that extend network capability and increase customer satisfaction with the enhanced home coverage.

"Incremental speed is not the only measure of an enhanced powerline solution," said Brian McGee, vice president and general manager of Atheros' powerline business unit. "To be an effective and useful solution, it must be standards-based to ensure interoperability, deliver application-capable throughput across the entire home, and meet industry standards for 'green' power efficiency. The AR7400 chipset fulfils each of these criteria and brings the added value of being based on the market-proven, carrier-certified HomePlug AV technology previously delivered by Intellon and deployed in tens of millions of homes worldwide."

Features of the AR7400 Chipset
The Atheros Powerline chipset consists of the AR7400 MAC/PHY transceiver and the AR1500 AFE / line driver. The AR7400 chipset is the world's first solution designed to comply to the IEEE 1901 draft 2.0 standard (now elevated to Sponsor Letter Ballot status), a global, open powerline standard. Just as the IEEE 802.11 standard unified and accelerated the growth of the wireless LAN industry, the IEEE 1901 standard will help to unify and drive the expansion of the powerline networking industry. The 1901 standard utilises a wider operating frequency band (2 MHz to 50 MHz) than the current HomePlug AV standard (2MHz to 30 MHz), thereby increasing PHY performance in IEEE 1901 operation. The AR7400 chipset will comply with the FFT-OFDM provision of 1901 and incorporates the inter-PHY protocol (IPP) co-existence mechanism.

The chipset also supports operation up to 75 MHz, utilising all of the practically available spectrum defined in the 100 MHz IEEE 1901 charter, and avoiding the global, high-power FM radio broadcast bands from 76 to 108MHz. This extended frequency range coupled with high density modulation to 4096 QAM, allow AR7400-based powerline products to communicate at more than 500Mbps PHY rates. In coaxial cable applications, the PHY rates can exceed 600Mbps, while providing extended coverage due to the AR1500's lower noise floor and greater output dynamic range.

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