Broadcom introduces single-chip Wi-Fi client

Broadcom is unveiling what it claims is the world’s first 802.11b Wi-Fi LAN client contained on a single, low-power chip suitable for use in mobile phones, handheld computers and consumer electronic devices.

Principal engineer at Broadcom, Stephen Palm, said the company was targeting its new industry-standard 802.11b chip at the mobile phone market. The low power of the chip — which Palm said used nearly 90 per cent less power than other chips on the market — would allow Wi-Fi-enabled handsets to make voice-over-IP calls within the range of an enterprise WLAN or a Wi-Fi hotspot.

Despite the chip’s small size, Palm said Broadcom had built extensive capabilities into the hardware, including the next generation Advanced Encryption Standard and the current Wireless Protected Access security.

Broadcom is already talking with several handset manufacturers about using the chip, although Palm declined to identify them.

Palm said Broadcom was also working on a family of single chip WLAN clients.

Farpoint Group analyst, Craig Mathias, said he expected Wi-Fi-enabled mobile phone handsets to hit the market by the end of this year or early in 2004.

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