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More MIMO

My Atheros visit didn't involve any light shows, but instead got me the details on their VLocity MIMO. Their approach - which is along the lines of the TGn Sync proposal - uses two radios, with each radio having two antennas. But unlike both Airgo and Video54, which keep their MIMO activities confined to one channel, each Atheros radio uses a different channel.

I would think this could leave them open for attack by competitors for being spectrum hogs. But if the VLocity implementation really is close to the TGn Sync proposal, there should be a mode using a "legacy-compatible" 20Mhz channel width with reduced throughput.

So the VLocity approach bullet items are: dual channel; beam forming (power steering to antennas); and receive combining. They said this combination gives them about 10dB of path gain which should result in an improved throughput vs. range curve, i.e. better speeds at longer ranges. They also said that VLocity provides between 3 and 5dB of gain if only one end (AP or STA) is VLocity-enabled.

You can get some of those bullets by looking at the shot of the poster I found in D-Link's booth, which is where Atheros sent me to look into getting review product.

The Atheros VLocity pitch - D-Link style

The Atheros VLocity pitch - D-Link style

But when I visited D-Link's booth, they didn't even mention the product and I forgot to ask while I was being given the tour. When I later returned to inquire about when I could get the product for review, I was told that review units weren't being sent to anyone just yet.

D-Link MIMO products

D-Link MIMO products

So while Atheros says that their chipsets are shipping in volume, it looks like their first VLocity customer isn't quite ready to get the product out into the market.

Finally, since the word on the street was that Broadcom would be announcing its MIMO contender sometime in the next few months, I asked them about it during my booth visit, which centered on demos of their Bluetooth solutions and SecureEasySetup [related article]. But the only thing that Jeff Abramowitz, Broadcom's senior director of wireless LAN marketing would say about its rumored MIMO offering is that they would "aggressively pursue the sweet spot of the market". Mr. Abramowitz sees the components of this "sweet spot" as having higher speed and greater range as well as being 802.11n upgradable and attractively priced.

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