Since the beginning of the year, Broadcom has been the only provider of 802.11ac chips, which it calls 5G Wi-Fi, made to power routers, such as the Buffalo AirStation WZR-D1800H and other Wi-Fi clients. The playing field has changed a little now with Marvell announcing today a chip of its own, the Avastar 88W8897.
Marvell's new chip is slightly different from those offered by Broadcom. First of all, the Avastar 88W8897 combines 802.11ac, Near Field Communication (NFC), and Bluetooth in one die, providing more options for mobile devices. Secondly, this chip offers 802.11ac in the 2-by-2 (dual-stream) configuration only, meaning the Wi-Fi bandwidth caps at about 900Mbps. Broadcom also offers 3-by-3 chips that promise 1.3Gbps.
Marvell says that its new 802.11ac chip is not made for routers but primarily for mobile devices, and will be embedded inside complete hardware, such as ultrabooks or tablets, rather than being sold in adapters that consumers could buy to add to computers they already own.
According to Marvell, the 88W8897 is the only chip that increases throughput with 802.11ac technology and also simultaneously supports NFC for simple tap-and-go wireless conductivity. On top of that, the chip offers a cost reduction of 75 percent compared with previous wireless solutions, the company claims.
Marvell says its 88W8897 chip is designed to support Wi-Fi-Certified Miracast, and is expected to be certified later this year. This means it will support 802.11ac as well as clients of previous Wi-Fi standards seamlessly on both 5GHz and 2.4GHz bands.
Finally, the new chip has Integrated Location Engine, a Wi-Fi location engine designed to enable accurate indoor positioning. According to Marvell, end-user products that use its Avastar 88W8897 will be available in 2013.
It's predicted that in the next five years, there will be from 50 billions to 1 trillion Internet connected devices in the world. Marvell says it thinks its new Avastar 88W8897 chip will be a big part of this development.