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12/1/2010
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Ralink Rolls WiFi Chips For Mobile Devices

The high-performance, low-power processors will support less expensive, small form factor wireless consumer electronics, including cell phones, cameras, gaming devices and tablet PCs.

Networking developer Ralink Technology has entered the mobile Wi-Fi market with new WLAN chips for cell phones and portable consumer electronics products.

The RT8180 for cell phones and the RT3180 and RT3680 for portable consumer electronics devices are integrated 2.4-GHz and dual-band 802.11n WLAN chips for high-performance portable consumer electronics wireless applications that require mobility, connectivity and range, Ralink said.

The handheld device chips (RT3180 and RT3680) integrate several mobile-specific functions, including high-performance power amplifiers, low-noise amplifiers, and other front-end components. The new functions will also enable companies to design low-cost and small form factors for portable consumer electronics applications such as digital camcorders, digital cameras, mobile gaming platforms and tablet PCs.

The external component count is reduced further through an integrated power management unit, Ralink said, which will still enable support for advanced low-power states. This makes the chips ideal for compact battery-powered mobile devices, the company said. Support for Wake on Wireless LAN is included through embedded processors, which offload all 802.11n-related functions, Ralink said. "The RT3180 and RT3680 chips also feature 2, 3 and 4 wire Bluetooth coexistence mechanisms, and a rich set of interfaces including USB 2.0, SDIO 2.0, GSPI, UART, SPI and I2C, creating an ideal feature set for ultra-connected mobile devices,'' according to Ralink.

The RT8180, architected for mobile phones, is a low-cost, single Wi-Fi chip that contains a 150-Mbps 802.11n media access controller (MAC) and baseband; a high-performance 19-dBm 2.4-GHz radio and power amplifier; a low-noise amplifier; and an integrated transmit/receive switch. The switch has improved range and reliability with two-antenna diversity support, the company said, as well as a mobile-centric SDIO 2.0 interface, integrated RAM and ROM memory, and an embedded power management unit.

The RT8110 chip also has 100% host CPU offload capability, per-packet antenna diversity technology, power management optimizations, support for Wake on Wireless LAN, and other radio/baseband enhancements for better range and reliability, Ralink said.

"Many of today's consumer electronics products such as camcorders, cameras and mobile gaming consoles are 'connected hubs' in a multi-faceted, networking-focused ecosystem," said David Borison, VP of marketing at Ralink Technology, in a statement. "Add smartphones to the mix and you have an unprecedented market opportunity as all manner of consumer electronics devices become connected -- with 802.11n Wi-Fi as the high-speed connectivity technology of choice."

Consumer mobile electronics manufacturers are now testing the Ralink RT3180 and RT3680 chips, the company said, and handset manufacturers will receive samples of the RT8180 chip in the first quarter of 2011.

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