This week at CTIA Wireless in New Orleans, Texas Instruments
(TI) unveiled its latest chipsets for wireless phones, designed more than ever to bring Wi-Fi into handhelds that will facilitate WLAN/cellular convergence.
The platform for this announcement is called WiLink 4.0, which combines hardware—TI’s 4th generation of 802.11 silicon—and software. The chip itself combines the MAC, baseband and radio on one chip. In fact, they used what TI calls a “Think MAC” to take on some of the host processing usually handled by the low-end CPU found in a handset.
Both an 802.11b/g chip and a dual-band 802.11a/b/g chip are available, providing choice for OEM phone makers. Both versions are made in the 90nm RF-CMOS process and are pin-for-pin compatible so manufacturers can create an 11b/g product and offer 11a/b/g with the same design. Each measures just 6mm by 6mm.
Both use TI’s Digital RF Processor (DRP) technology, previously used on chips in mobile phones and Bluetooth products to simplify processing of radio frequency (RF) signals, and Extra Low Power (ELP) technology for power savings.
The chips under WiLink will coexist with Bluetooth on the same device, which is needed for Bluetooth headsets even if you’re connected to a WLAN for voice over IP. The phones will be capable of working with a variety of convergence methods, including frameworks like Unlicensed Mobile Access (UMA), 3GPP IMS, and Session Initiation Protocol (SIP).
On the standard Wi-Fi side the chips support security up to 802.11i/WPA2, and for voice Quality of Service they support WME/WSM.
TI is offering a WiLink 4.x software development kit (SDK) for developers. The chips won’t be sampling until the third quarter, and likely won’t be on the market for another year.