Atheros adds GbE to WLAN platform

November 19, 2007 -- The additions to the company's ETHOS Ethernet WLAN portfolio include its second-generation GbE Controller, the AR8121, and its 6-port GbE Switch, the AR8316.

November 19, 2007 -- WLAN platforms developer Atheros Communications, Inc. has introduced two new designs which extend the company's Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) portfolio. The additions to the company's ETHOS Ethernet portfolio, aimed at PC, retail networking and carrier equipment customers, include its second-generation GbE Controller, the AR8121, and its 6-port GbE Switch, the AR8316.

"With the addition of the AR8121 and AR8316 Gigabit solutions to our rapidly expanding ETHOS portfolio, we continue to demonstrate our commitment and focus to bring Atheros' engineering assets to the Ethernet industry, comments Jason Zheng, vice president, Asia Pacific for Atheros. "Our new GbE controller and switch solutions set new benchmarks in footprint, power consumption and price."

The Atheros AR8121 is a compact, integrated PCI Express Gigabit controller designed to meet the size, performance and cost requirements of the consumer laptop and desktop PC market. The GbE controller is available in an ultra-compact 48-pin QFN package with one of the industry's lowest external component counts, measuring 36 mm sq. (in comparison, the nearest competitive solution is more than twice this size, contends the company).

According to the company, the AR8121 achieves substantial power savings through efficiencies derived from its miniature size combined with several advanced modes to enhance its industry-leading low power consumption. For example, a laptop consumes less than 700 mW in GbE operation; the AR8121 features a deep sleep mode which consumes only 20 mW when the network cable is disconnected, saving battery power in laptops. The power savings offered by the AR8121 enables PC OEMs and ODMs to meet and exceed the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Energy Star 4.0 specification for power requirements.

Aimed at the home and SMB networking markets for 802.11n wireless GbE products, the Atheros AR8316 6-port GbE switch ships in a 176-pin LQFP package for integration within Wi-Fi, wireless network processor (WNPU) and GbE or Fast Ethernet switches for Gigabit Ethernet-enabled wireless routers, access points and gateways.

According to the company, the AR8316 delivers power advantages over existing GbE switching platform solutions; its integrated PHYs consume less than 3W, enabling the device to utilize the lower-cost LQFP package as opposed to the BGA package used by most competing solutions. The design also features advanced power-saving mechanisms which dynamically adjust power based on port usage. This proprietary feature results in additional power savings, and reduces the solution's thermal requirement.

The AR8316 features five integrated GbE PHYs. The device, like its predecessor, the AR8216 Fast Ethernet switch, also supports an advanced QoS architecture which prioritizes switch traffic for different classes of applications, such as voice traffic for IP phones, video traffic for multimedia and data traffic for e-mail. The AR8316 also supports carrier-class features such as ingress/egress rate limiting, as well as IPv4 IGMP and IPv6 MLD snooping to significantly improve the performance of streaming media and other bandwidth-intensive IP multicast applications. In addition, virtual LANs are supported for separation of multiple users or groups on the network.

The AR8121 GbE Controller and AR8316 6-port GbE Switch are currently sampling and will be in volume production in the first quarter of 2008.

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