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Linksys - more

What you might not know is that there is also a "V2" of the WRT350N that is not replacing the "V1" and that has an entirely different design. Figure 4 shows an internal view of the V2, where you can see a mini-PCI radio using the Atheros XSPAN draft 11n chipset and a Marvell 88E6131 gigabit switch.

Linksys WRT350N V2 - Internal
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Figure 4: Linksys WRT350N V2 - Internal

Figure 5, which has the radio board removed, shows the Marvell 88F5180, the same processor used in Netgear's WNR854T [reviewed].

Linksys WRT350N V2 - Main Board
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Figure 5: Linksys WRT350N V2 - Main Board

As I noted earlier, the V1 and V2 are both active products with the V1 selling in North and Latin America and the V2 in EMEA and Asia Pacific markets. Linksys told me that they went with a dual-vendor strategy to avoid chip shortages, which they said is not an "uncommon" practice. They also said that while performance was "nearly identical" on the two versions, they chose to segment distribution geographically "so that customer purchases are consistent".

Linksys is also reaching beyond Broadcom to produce a more aggressively-priced, higher performance wireless product, using Ralink as the wireless chip vendor in its Range Plus line. Figure 6 shows the main board of the WRT100 Range Plus router.

The photo is too fuzzy to make out the Baseband / MAC chip used, but a detail photo (not shown) clearly showed the RT2720L 1T2R Transceiver (1 Transmit, 2 Receive).

Linksys WRT100 board
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Figure 6: Linksys WRT100 board

Linksys is being careful with the Range Plus product positioning, not calling it a draft 11n product and, instead, falling back to the MIMO pitch used in the days before draft 802.11n. But the FCC test report shows test results for both 20 and 40 MHz Draft 802.11n OFDM modes, including spectral plots. And this Ralink press release refers to the chipset as the "RT2700 802.11n 1T2R (one transmit, two receive) chipset and said "RT2700 based solutions can be certified for Wi-Fi Alliance’s 802.11n draft 2.0 standard".

Linksys isn't going with an all-Ralink approach for the Range Plus line, opting to use an Atheros XSPAN AR5008 draft 11n chipset for the matching WPC100 card. Figure 7 shows the WPC100 bare board, which uses an AR5416 Baseband / MAC and AR2133 3T3R (!) 2.4 GHz radio.

Linksys WPC100 board
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Figure 7: Linksys WPC100 board

The WPC100 product page describes this card only as a "MIMO" card, despite the fact that it uses the same full 3 transmit, 3 receive draft 11n chipset used by D-Link's DWA-652 Xtreme N Notebook Adapter.

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