August 1, 2002 5:13 PM PDT

Boosting Wi-Fi's range

Intersil unleashed a new set of chips Thursday that it says both extends the range of a Wi-Fi network and helps deter the notorious power drain these wireless networks create on laptops and other devices.

The chips are power amplifiers, which are standard components of access points and modems that make up a wireless Wi-Fi network. Amplifiers determine how far and how powerful a signal must be to reach a mobile device.

The new Intersil power amplifier uses additional transistors to create a more powerful signal that can travel 200 feet when used indoors, about 25 feet further than earlier generations of Intersil power amplifiers, said Intersil senior manager for strategic marketing Bruce Kraemer.

The amplifiers also double the strength of a signal at the outer edges of a Wi-Fi network when compared to Intersil's earlier power amplifiers, Kraemer said. The outer edge of a Wi-Fi network is traditionally the area where a signal is weakest.

One side effect of the new amplifier, Kraemer says, is that it helps combat the chief complaint among most users of Wi-Fi wireless networks--the networks sap a device's battery too quickly.

A signal created by the new power amplifiers will be stronger. That means the laptop doesn't have to work as long to send the signal, so the battery isn't being tapped as much, Kraemer said.

"The less time you spend on the air, the less battery consumption there is," he said.

The Intersil chips are available now, he said.

Intersil is one of several companies selling power amplifiers to makers of Wi-Fi equipment.

Most Wi-Fi equipment makers have generally turned to companies such as Maxim and Hitatchi for their power amplifiers, said Navin Sabharwal, a wireless analyst with ABI Research.

 

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