Amphion Launches First Dual-Standard 5-GHz Wireless-LAN Baseband IP Cores For 802.11a and HiperLAN2

January 18, 2002

Application-Specific Cores for Wireless Baseband Offer Ready-Made Digital Physical-Layer Solution for Low-Power 5GHz WLAN Clients, Access Points

Amphion Semiconductor Ltd., the leading provider of semiconductor intellectual-property for multimedia, data security, wireless and broadband communications, today announces a family of plug-and-play IP core solutions for digital PHY layer implementation of either IEEE 802.11a or HiperLAN2 compliant Wireless LAN systems in 180nm, 150nm and 130nm CMOS integrated circuit designs.

The Amphion(TM) 5GHz Wireless Baseband CS3720 Transmit and CS3820 Receive cores use direct-mapped digital signal processing functionality to accomplish end-to-end WLAN baseband processing in hardware. Both cores exploit block-idling and a sophisticated clocking scheme to conserve power at every stage -- a critical requirement for battery-powered mobile applications.

Together the cores use less than 500K gates. Only analog-to-digital conversion (ADC) and frontend RF downconversion components are required to assemble a complete baseband processing in a single SoC or ASIC chipsets. This high level of digital integration enables Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) to immediately reduce design and manufacturing costs for their WLAN client and access point products.

IP Cores for Wireless Baseband

"Amphion now offers the industry's first dual-standard wireless-baseband semiconductor IP solution dedicated to the emerging 5GHz radio-on-a-chip market. There are chipsets, chips, network processors, and configurable DSPs entering this arena, but Amphion is taking WLAN system-level integration to a new level. Amphion's wireless-baseband cores make an excellent platform on which to build numerous 802.11 baseband SoCs," said Stephen Farson, VP Engineering at Amphion.

"WLAN baseband is a sophisticated undertaking. The BPSK/QPSK, QAM, FFT, Viterbi and other blocks all require communications IP design expertise that many SoC integrators just don't have in-house. Amphion is a recognized expert on these functions. Customers have been urging us to provide complete digital wireless-baseband processor solutions, knowing that they will get the same great levels of ultra-low power, cycle efficiency, and area efficiency found in other Amphion cores."

The CS3720/CS3820 cores require no PHY software programming. Scarce DSP and GPP (general purpose processor) MIPS can be applied to other value-add functions since all the embedded programming efforts for the actual PHY layer functions are released from the embedded processors. This greatly reduces co-design complexity and verification effort.

"There is significant investment in every product's compute infrastructure -- designers try not to waste it," explained John McCanny, Amphion's CTO. "These WLAN hardware accelerators put value into the system architecture. Adding a complete hardware digital baseband processor avoids tying up processor cycles, RAM and IC system flexibility on repetitive signal processing tasks. By freeing the processor to run value-add software -- while at the same time reducing power and complexity -- the designer gets a better return on investment."

Platform for 802.11, Wi-Fi(TM) compatibility

Amphion's Wireless Baseband CS3720/CS3820 cores are compatible with all the various IEEE 802.11 standards: for example, the cores can be combined with design-reusable Wi-Fi(TM) (802.11b) sub-systems to quickly implement high-bandwidth systems that are backwards-compatible with Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11g).

The CS3720/CS3820 cores can also provide PHY layer functionality for WLAN systems employing enhancements for QoS (quality-of-service, IEEE 802.11e) and spectrum and transmit power management (IEEE 802.11h).

Importantly, designers can achieve a very low power, full bandwidth implementation of the impending 802.11i standard for high-strength data security by combining Amphion WLAN cores at the PHY level with one of Amphion's OCB-AES cores controlled at the MAC level.

Essential applications for WLAN

The Amphion 5GHz WLAN cores support both the American IEEE 802.11a standard and the European ETSI BRAN HiperLAN-2 standard (BRAN = Broadband Radio Access Network). These two similar standards utilize a radio frequency spectrum allocation in the 5GHz band to provide up to 54Mbps data throughput across a distance of approximately 100 meters. WLAN products operating in the 5GHz band also offer advantages, such as better multipath resilience, over Wi-Fi devices that operate in the 2.4GHz band and offer 11Mbps throughput.

In the home networking environment, WLAN offers a better solution than DSL or cable because it inherently handles flexible, symmetric downstream/upstream capacity. This is important for QoS applications such as HDTV broadcast-quality video, CD-quality audio, and wireline voice. (Wi-Fi lacks the bandwidth required for high-definition digital video). While the Amphion WLAN cores are excellent for set-top-box/gateway applications, their value is not limited to applications targeting the home environment.

-- Home wireless networking -- gateways, set-top boxes, gaming consoles

-- Wireless LAN-enabled hot-spots -- airports, hotels, malls

-- Business infrastructure -- wireless network adapters, access points, bridging products

-- Telematics

-- 4G Cellular systems

-- Desktop PCs and laptops

-- Smart-phones and PDAs

-- Multimedia internet and digital appliances

-- Real-time wireless video-conferencing

A number of fabed and fabless semiconductor players have entered the WLAN IC market during the past twelve months. Amphion cores for wireless-baseband and data security will play a key role in helping those chipmakers reduce their form factors, and also to lower the design barrier for other OEMs seeking to enter this fast-growing market. Using plug-and-play IP cores is rapidly becoming the preferred approach for reducing the time and cost spent on new and derivative products. Frost and Sullivan forecasts that manufacturers' revenue in the total worldwide WLAN industry will approach $884.0 million by the year 2002.

Product Availability

OEMs and systems designers interested in early access to Amphion WLAN cores for wireless baseband CMOS SoC/ASIC projects can contact Amphion directly.

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