welcoming to wi-fi to home networks by seanpercival


									Welcoming Wi-Fi to home networks
By Rahul Patel Senior Director of Marketing WLAN Business Unit Broadcom Corp.


The electronics world consists of computing devices in the PC domain, entertainment/communications devices in the CE domain and cellphones in the mobile domain. Unfortunately, these three domains do not communicate well with each other and there is no real-time support for media on existing connections. However, the world is changing and we can see that the PC, mobile and CE domains are beginning to merge as TV and mobile services extend into the home. This is creating new business and usage models in the market as well. The prevalence of wireless technologies is one of the driving forces behind this change. While consumers have adopted Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and cellular at a strong pace, each platform plays an important role for home and enterprise networking. For example, Wi-Fi is at a critical inflection point and it is expected that devices enabled with Wi-Fi will account for more than half of all home network connections by year-end. This includes 139 million notebook PCs (assuming a 100 percent attach rate), with Asia Pacific accounting for the largest Wi-Fi market according to ABI Research. Triple play trend ABI Research expects that enabling triple play services will continue to be a driver in the future, as many ISPs start to make residential gateways part of their standard customer premises equipment offering. China Telecom Corp. Ltd has begun to deploy a basic DSL Wi-Fi gateway as an upgrade option to a basic DSL modem. In countries like China, where price is a significant barrier, broadband ISPs will continue to offer basic

Figure 1: There will be over 85 million home networks in Asia Pacific by 2012, with China accounting for nearly 42 million, according to ABI Research.

modems, but according to ABI Research, they expect that the price differential between gateway and modems will continue to shrink. Many gateways will ship into homes that do not use them yet today, and increasingly homes with multiple PCs or wireless-enabled devices such as phones or game consoles, will look to connect them to the network. The overall number of home networks in Asia Pacific will grow from over 29 million in 2007 to 85 million by 2012. Much of this growth will be driven by China, which alone will account for nearly 42 million by the end of the forecast period (Figure 1). Increased penetration of broadband home networks will lead to increased wireless usage in the country, providing great opportunities for Wi-Fi technology growth. Also, research firms worldwide expect that the Wi-Fi market will continue to grow on multiple fronts, and that products based on the IEEE 802.11g standard will also expand throughout 2008 and in 2009 as Wi-Fi infiltrates more CE devices. Due to lower cost

and reduced power consumption of today’s 802.11g solutions, this platform has become the de facto wireless technology for broadband gateways, gaming devices, media players, mobile phones, peripherals etc. and is also being combined with other wireless technologies to enable device manufacturers the ability to offer more wireless connectivity in smaller form factors. An example of this trend is Broadcom’s BCM4325 solution that combines Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and FM into a single 65nm silicon die. The highly-integrated solution dramatically reduces the size, cost and power consumption of adding all three wireless features to mobile devices, while offering better Wi-Fi and Bluetooth performance than discrete solutions. This improved performance is the result of Broadcom’s integrated CMOS power amplifier and sophisticated coexistence algorithms. Embracing 802.11n As the industry evolves from 802.11g to the next-generation 802.11n standard, more and more product segments are taking ad-

vantage of the powerful 802.11n technology since it provides faster and more reliable wireless connections. The 802.11n platform is seven times faster than 802.11g and three times faster than Ethernet. Moreover, it has better range to provide robust connectivity throughout the entire home—even at the edge of the house. Because of its unprecedented bandwidth, 802.11n is the first wireless technology that can support multimedia distribution to carry simultaneous high-definition (HD) video, audio and data streams. Additionally, 802.11n products provide simultaneous dual-band operation, which adds even more channel capacity for bandwidth-intensive multimedia applications. Today, consumers have amassed libraries of digital movies, TV shows, music and photos, and want to access this media content on wireless devices throughout the home. Not only can 802.11n support several simultaneous users and applications, but its superior capabilities guarantee QoS and ensure better user experience

EE Times-Asia | September 16-30, 2008 | eetasia.com

for all devices in the home while providing intelligent content management and distribution. The current draft of the 802.11n standard is draft 2.0, with final ratification expected in 2009. Draft 2.0 of the 802.11n specification is extremely solid, and significant changes to the draft are not anticipated. For those 802.11n devices that supported earlier drafts of the specification, these devices are upgradeable through their firmware. To drive industry acceptance of 802.11n, Wi-Fi certification is critical. As a result, the market shift towards 802.11n is gaining momentum and becoming more cost-effective. The 802.11n ecosystem is growing too, with more manufacturers adding 802.11n technology into HDTVs, STBs and media adapters. This trend has driven whole-home wireless coverage for video distribution to become a new killer application. According to ABI Research, 802.11n will account for nearly half of all Wi-Fi shipments in 2008. Rising to the challenge Implementing the new 802.11n platform has created significant technological challenges, but companies are poised to successfully lead this worldwide Wi-Fi market. Broadcom has shipped over 12 million units. It was also the first company to release a singlechip 802.11n solution in the 65nm CMOS process. The company has two more technologies addressing the 802.11n challenges. The Intensi-fi XLR technology provides radio performance and up to 300Mbit/s of true wireless bandwidth on the 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequency bands. With fewer devices competing in the dedicated 5GHz band, it has become an advantage to place high-value multimedia content in this frequency band since it yields less interference and more channels. The dual-band 802.11n technology of the Intensi-fi XLR 802.11n routers enable simultaneous voice, video and data applications

Figure 2: The dual-band 802.11n technology of the Intensi-fi XLR 802.11n routers enable simultaneous voice, video and data applications.

Figure 3: Accelerange technology consists of hardware and software enhancements that ensure robust wireless coverage in the home.

(Figure 2). It expands network capacity and enables consumers to get the most from their wireless networks. Wi-Fi manufacturers can use the Intensi-fi XLR solutions to build simultaneous dual-band routers for HD video streaming, and can leverage its silicon integration to reduce the cost difference between 802.11n and 802.11g products. To provide a strong wireless backbone for the networked home, Broadcom has optimized its 802.11n router platform with Accelerange technology—hardware and software enhancements that ensure robust wireless coverage in the far corners of a home (Figure 3). The Accelerange software architecture also supports space time block coding and features a 2x2 antenna structure that delivers better performance at minimal cost. Its nonlinear equalizer requires only two, and

the integration at 65nm is helpful for further cost reductions. Also, Accelerange-based solutions are optimized for video distribution and other multimedia applications since its built-in algorithms can detect multimedia streams and dynamically adjust for optimal delivery. The certified dynamic frequency selection support can add 15 channels in the 5GHz band. Seamless distribution Digital entertainment content is readily available, but moving that content from one device to another has been a challenge. For example, it is difficult to transfer home movies from a PC to a TV because the products lack a simple and common connection method. Moving forward, broadband wireless speeds of 802.11n and Wi-Fi certification now enable a

product and technology backbone that allows consumers to move video off a broadband network, bring it into the home and move the video from the gateway over a wireless link to an IP STB for viewing on a TV. But regardless of which flavor users choose— 802.11g or 802.11n—because these various Wi-Fi standards are compatible and work together, the Wi-Fi ecosystem will continue to grow as the digital backbone changing the way people communicate and experience media in the home. With the trend towards the newer 802.11n specification, companies are poised to continue leadership in this market segment. As CE manufacturers design multimedia products with 802.11n connectivity, consumers will soon be able to seamlessly distribute and view video and audio content throughout their home.

eetasia.com | September 16-30, 2008 | EE Times-Asia

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