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Broadcom's New Combo Chip offers 802.11n
Posted: 08-Dec-2008 [Source: Broadcom]

[Broadcom's latest combo chip, the BCM4329 integrates 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and advanced FM transmit capabilities.]

Irvine, CA -- Broadcom Corporation today announced the availability of its newest wireless combination chip that enables mobile phones to support more media and data applications without impacting size or battery life. By integrating Broadcom's industry leading 802.11n Wi-Fi®, Bluetooth® and FM technologies on a single silicon die, the new combo solution offers far more functionality than any other single-chip wireless solution on the market. The highly integrated Broadcom® chip also provides significant cost, size, power and performance advantages over discrete semiconductor implementations, making it ideal for handheld electronics.

Combination chips have gained tremendous traction as more manufacturers add multiple wireless features to mobile phones and other handheld devices, and will account for nearly one-third of all wireless connectivity solutions shipped in 2012*. To serve this growing market, Broadcom recently announced its plans to introduce a new combination chip every 60 days over the coming months. A variety of products based on the Broadcom BCM4325, the industry's first Wi-Fi/Bluetooth/FM chip, are already on store shelves, and devices based on the Broadcom BCM2049 Bluetooth/FM chip are currently nearing production. Now the newest member of this award-winning combo family, the BCM4329, adds the most advanced Wi-Fi technology and FM transmit capabilities to enable even more powerful applications in smaller devices.

As mobile phones become more media-centric - with cameras, full-featured browsers and enhanced audio capabilities - many consumers want to share photos, videos, music and data between their portable devices and other electronics such as TVs, PCs, printers, remote speakers, headsets and car stereos. These applications can benefit from the new 802.11n standard, which offers higher throughput, more robust connections and much greater coverage than previous Wi-Fi technologies.

Broadcom continues to raise the bar for mobile connectivity by delivering one of the industry's first solutions to offer 802.11n for mobile devices. It provides up to 50 Megabits per second (Mbps) of actual wireless throughput, allowing large file transfers to happen more quickly while consuming less total power. In addition, the BCM4329 employs space time block coding (STBC), an 802.11n feature that enables a mobile device to maintain a connection with an access point anywhere within an expanded coverage area.

The BCM4329 includes both FM transmit and receive capabilities. FM transmit enables consumers to stream music directly from a personal media players (PMPs) or mobile phone to car stereos or home theater systems without having to purchase special adapters or use bulky cables. FM receive is already a popular feature that enables consumers to obtain real-time traffic information as well as listen to music, news and sports broadcasts on their mobile phones.

The BCM4329 also integrates Bluetooth, which is already a ubiquitous feature in mobile phones and PMPs, enabling hands-free communications with wireless headsets, cordless data synchronization and stereo music streaming to headphones and speakers. Since Bluetooth and Wi-Fi operate in the same 2.4 GHz band, both the Broadcom BCM4325 and BCM4329 combination chips use innovative co-existence algorithms and a shared antenna system to minimize interference and provide even better performance than products that use separate Bluetooth and Wi-Fi solutions.

"Handset manufacturers are excited about the opportunities that 802.11n brings, but they are looking for single antenna solutions that meet stringent size and power requirements," said Chris Bergey, Director of Broadcom's Embedded WLAN line of business. "The BCM4329 is another example of how Broadcom is driving the industry towards combination solutions, not by delivering a one-size-fits-all technology, but by integrating the right mix of technologies for the right applications."

Technical Information

Since handheld devices lack the space, battery power and processing power to support 802.11n implementations with multiple antennas, the BCM4329 uses single-stream 802.11n to transmit and receive data. This significantly reduces the system's footprint and power consumption when compared to multi-stream solutions. Despite the use of a single antenna, the BCM4329 provides faster and more reliable wireless connections than current 802.11g products.

In addition to its performance advantages, the BCM4329 is the industry's smallest and lowest cost dual-band 802.11n solution. Dual-band capabilities allow Wi-Fi users to leverage the less crowded 5 GHz spectrum for media applications that require faster guaranteed bandwidth. To eliminate the cost and size barriers of adding dual-band functionality to mobile devices, the BCM4329 integrates 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz CMOS power amplifiers, which can reduce bill-of-material (BOM) costs by up to 75 cents while providing the same or better performance than solutions using external power amplifiers. Broadcom's extreme integration also reduces power consumption and makes BCM4329 designs fifteen percent smaller than those based on its predecessor, enabling modules that are less than 75 mm2 to accommodate the board space requirements of handheld devices.

Availability and Pricing

The BCM4329 combination chip is now sampling to early access customers and is scheduled for significant production quantities in 2009. Pricing is available upon request.

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