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802.11g Handheld WiFi Module Announced

Agere Systems today announced a new small-form-factor 802.11g mobile Wi-Fi module specifically designed for handhelds. This embedded system-in-package delivers 54 megabit-per-second (Mbit/s) speeds while balancing exceptional range and power savings.

Powered by Agere's complete WaveLAN chip set and software drivers, this module is being developed by Universal Scientific Industrial Co. Ltd. (USI), the leading global design and manufacturing service company, to provide excellent connectivity performance in small-form-factor Wi-Fi devices. Measuring only 20x29 millimeters, the SiP module is a standard product tailored to the size, power, operating distance and performance needs of handheld devices for wireless connectivity in homes, businesses and public hotspots.

The mini-module delivers an extended range of up to 100 meters at 6 Mbits/s. Mobile devices incorporating this solution can take advantage of this range-at-speed performance to provide users with the best possible wireless connection over distance. Using Agere's WaveLAN chip set -- which includes an RF transceiver, media access controller, baseband processor and power amplifier -- the SiP module delivers output power of 14 dBm at 54 Mbits/s operation and 16 dBm at 12 Mbits/s.

This module offers a new "deep sleep connected" mode that enables a device to idle at low operating power while retaining an active association to its access point. This standby power mode - the state most often in use by wireless devices - operates at 1.5 milliamps for the entire module, representing the industry benchmark achieved for low power consumption in 802.11b and g solutions.

In addition, the module is compliant with the draft IEEE 802.11e specification to meet the quality-of-service requirements for applications including voice over wireless LAN and streaming media. The solution will also support the new 802.11i security standard, which is expected to be finalized in June. The mini-module is currently sampling to customers, and is expected to begin volume production in third calendar quarter 2004.

Industry analyst firm Gartner Dataquest estimates that by 2006, 60 percent of PDAs and 5 percent of cellular handsets being shipped will include built-in wireless LAN connections. This module will be on display at the Computex 2004 trade show, being held June 1-5 in Taipei, Taiwan.

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Why!?!?

abosco @ 5/25/2004 7:41:42 PM #
Why ANYBODY would want 802.11g on their handheld is so far beyond me that the idea alone drove me clean off my chair and slammed my head right into the couch ten feet away from me. This is THE most unnecessary thing to come out of PDA accessories since the gold-plated stylus.

What is 802.11g better at than 802.11b? Well, its 54Mbps speed is better than the 11Mbps, which is good for computers that need to exchange loads of information across a network very quickly. With a handheld, the most you're going to have to transfer to another computer on the network is nothing exceeding 1GB on a current memory card, where 802.11g will take about 15 seconds less. Can the processor even handle the extra speed? And unless you have a fiber optic network, your internet will still be the same speed, so you're still going to be waiting for the processor to handle your webpage once it's downloaded.

Let's concentrate on getting 802.11b lower powered while ACTIVE and longer range than other technologies that provide little forseeable benefits.

-Bosco
NX80v + Wifi + BT + T616

RE: Why!?!?
I.M Anonymous @ 5/25/2004 8:14:44 PM #
The advantage of 802.11g is probably the 6Mbps at 100 meters aspect, not the 54Mbps at 10 meters aspect.

RE: Why!?!?
cbowers @ 5/25/2004 8:15:02 PM #
Speed is not the benefit here for PDA's. With 802.11g:

1. You'll no longer take your life in your hands when you bring down the speed of the 11g network when you associate your Tungsten to the AP. http://tinyurl.com/2gdjh
2. Superior RF performance of OFDM over 802.11b DSSS, with better handling of signal reflections that are typical of indoor environments.
3. A greater likelyhood of having WPA as an option over WEP to secure the data stream. Many vendors have misstepped in releasing this update to their 802.11b firmware, and electing for conversion/upgrade sales.


RE: Why!?!?
bcombee @ 5/25/2004 8:32:30 PM #
802.11g might not play on a basic PDA, but it would be very welcome in the new class of portable media centers -- you can use it for high-speed transfer of video and audio files; think of a Palm OS "iPod" with a 40GB media archive on it and a 640x480 landscape screen that could also serve as a client for video feeds off your home digital video recorder.

--
Ben Combee
http://palmos.combee.net - PDA programmer weblog
RE: Why!?!?
Texonite @ 5/26/2004 7:16:43 AM #
PalmOS Do Not Support HardDrives.

Future Online!

Sorry for my ENG :(

RE: Why!?!?
markgm @ 5/26/2004 8:58:43 AM #
The main reason I would want G on my handheld is for security. I don't want to have to resort to insecure B (therefore opening up my network and resulting in a slower connection speed). G works best when all the devices are the same type. Some cheap routers/APs won't even let you run G with security and B, which would require a second AP just for my handheld. Or I could just upgrade my AP, but it's just easier to have G in the device from the start.

RE: Why!?!?
bcombee @ 5/26/2004 11:21:55 AM #
Palm OS may not have support for hard drives now, but that doesn't mean that it will never have support for them. A licensee could do a fair job today using VFS and a lot of custom driver work.

--
Ben Combee
http://palmos.combee.net - PDA programmer weblog
RE: Why!?!?
jbarr @ 5/26/2004 11:31:37 AM #
One very good reason is to maintain consistency: When I installed an 802.11g network at home, I set it to "G-only" mode locking out all 802.11b traffic. This both improves my throughput and provides less conflict with nearby 802.11b networks. If I had an 802.11g card in my Tungsten T3, it would fit into my 802.11g network seamlessly. If I used an 802.11b card, I would have to reset my AP's to allow for 802.11b traffic decreasing performance and potentially conflicting with surrounding 802.11b networks.

RE: Why!?!?
cbowers @ 5/26/2004 11:51:54 AM #
"PalmOS Do Not Support HardDrives."

You're so sure?

Many use IBM Microdrives on their HandEra 330's, and TRGPro's. The iPod Mini merely uses the same type of drive, a 4GB drive with a CF interface.

RE: Why!?!?
palmhiker @ 5/26/2004 12:52:21 PM #
802.11g is nothing more than a way for Wi-Fi manufacturers to eeke out a little more profit in a product market that is quickly chasing a race to zero profitibility.

The scam of G is that it doesn't get anywhere near 54 MB/s (other than meaningless burst speeds) and the "Turbo" claims of 108 MB/s are pure fantasy.

My company recently tested G PCMCIA cards (Linksys Enterprise Class) against the best, industrial B cards (Cisco and Horizons) and here is roughly what we found:
(tested in an office buidling that is a nightmare to cover wirelessly, like many other buildings)

At 10 feet from the router:
G Card - 10.2 MB/s (sustained throughput)
B Card - 5.1 MB/s

At 50 feet from the router (down the hall, same floor):
G Card - 512 kb/s
B Card - 3.8 MB/s

At 150 feet from the router, on the next floor down:
G Card - No signal
B Card - 470 kb/s

Now, if you stay within 20-30 feet of your router, then G offers some speed advantages. Go further than that and you have less throughput, and a less reliable signal.

Combine that with the fact that most if not all hot spots are B, and will be for some time, spending additional money on G products is nonsense, in my opinion.

If security is your concern, you better not hook any wireless network to your internal servers. Our IT people install separate lines for Wi-Fi and then allow access to the corporate network only through a secured VPN.

RE: Why!?!?
ganoe @ 5/26/2004 3:41:08 PM #
The main benefit would be when you are using multiple/many devices on the same access point. AFAIK, that 54Mbps is shared across all the clients, so when you get 10-20 devices competing for bandwidth, it'll be nice.

palmhiker, your company had better check their numbers. There's no way you got 3.8 MB/s out of 802.11b let alone 5.1 MB/s or got 10.2 MB/s out of 802.11g. I assume you mean Mbit/sec.

RE: Why!?!?
cbowers @ 5/26/2004 8:57:44 PM #
"My company recently tested G PCMCIA cards (Linksys Enterprise Class) against the best, industrial B cards (Cisco and Horizons) "

Alas you don't give enough information to tell if the test was done correctly. In my link above, you'll see that simply associating an 802.11b client to an 802.11g access point, will drop your 11g performance. But actually download data over 11b, and indeed your throughput as seen by the 11g clients can drop *below" that of the 11b clients.

You really need to keep the 11b clients off your 11g network to preserve your throughput, and thus 11g chipsets for PDA's is nothing but a good thing.

RE: Why!?!?
palmhiker @ 5/27/2004 7:58:56 AM #
ganoe - Yes, I meant Mbit/sec...

cbowers - The engineers doing the testing are RF engineers, these were real world tests. When the G cards were tested, no other cards were on that network.

The point I am trying to make here is, wireless coverage is more about distance than it is about speed. Many of the companies making these claims do not test their products (or reveal tests made) in real world situations.

I was amazed to see that we simply could never get a G card and Access Point to move sustained data above 11 MB/sec, even with the laptop 4 feet from the AP! And the staying reception at distance of the G products just simply doesn't come close to the best B products out there.

So the choice right now is, good coverage of several Mbit/s, or a few feet of 11 Mbit/s...


RE: Why!?!?
palmhiker @ 5/27/2004 8:16:00 AM #
"The main benefit would be when you are using multiple/many devices on the same access point. AFAIK, that 54Mbps is shared across all the clients, so when you get 10-20 devices competing for bandwidth, it'll be nice."

Take another look at our test results. We were never able to achieve anywhere near 54 Mbps of sustained data with ONE user. What you will have is a few users close to the AP who may get 11 Mbps, with the other users who are further away getting less than 1 Mbps.

An enterprise class B system will outperform that, when you look at average sustained throughput for all users.

RE: Why!?!?
cbowers @ 5/27/2004 3:41:38 PM #
Others with Real World tests beg to differ though. See 22+Mbps here:
http://www.tomsnetworking.com/Sections-article42-page8.php

And I highly doubt one *would* see 54Mbps on a typical desktop, even given ideal conditions.

You'll run into TCP/IP limitations very quickly. Most PC's are only using an 8K TCP receive window size. The TCP/IP 2.0 stack in NT for example has a hard limit of 8K. It's also the default in Windows 2000, you have to tweak the registry to get a full 64K window size.

See the data and lookup chart here for expected TCP/IP limitations:

http://www.babinszki.com/Networking/Max-Ethernet-and-TCP-Throughput.html

Even with only a 2ms latency on the network your hard limit assuming no other overhead (and WEP alone will take a chunk or two of that), you're already going to butt up against a 33Mbps limit with an 8K TCP window. If latency goes up to 6ms, you're down to 11Mbps and into the 802.11b realm. And that still assumes you're not sharing the link with anyone.

This whole debate is nothing new though. You can still google discussions in the late 80's of people puzzling over the fact that they're only seeing 2-5Mbps over 10BaseT ethernet between their Sun and other assorted Unix boxes.

The bottom line is you're never going to see the posted limit be it wired or wireless (I don't see the full 100% of my 10Mbps fiber optic link either).

And chances are the link will be shared at some point, which is sort of the point of a network. Therefore a couple things go a long way to satisfaction.

1. Buy more than you need today (especiallly with the price differentiation so minimal between 11a/b/g).
2. Keep your expectations low.

Goes for many things actually. A study about that and marriage hit the wires yesterday in fact.
http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/entertainment/8762081.htm?1c

RE: Why!?!?
palmhiker @ 5/27/2004 4:42:56 PM #
cbowers wrote: "Others with Real World tests beg to differ though. See 22+Mbps here:
http://www.tomsnetworking.com/Sections-article42-page8.php"

Actually, this note was down the page a little:
"All the following tests were taken under best-case signal conditions, with AP / router and client about five feet apart. WEP was not enabled for any tests."

This is hardly real-world testing, unless you never get more than 5 feet away from the router.

This is the problem I have with all the tests I have seen - They all focus on throughput. Wireless communications is more about DISTANCE than it is about throughput. Show me 10 or 20 MB/s at 300 feet inside of a building and I will be impressed. Five feet away from the router is an absurd way to test these devices, kind of like testing the suspension on a car at 1 MPH...

RE: Why!?!?
cbowers @ 5/27/2004 5:31:23 PM #
"This is hardly real-world testing, unless you never get more than 5 feet away from the router."

You're free to be as picky as you want, but you're own test results included 10 feet samples.

It depends on your world I guess. Real world to me means outside of a lab.

As it happens I'm typing this in an office 22 floors up above all the wifi hotspots in cafe's below (virtually none are visible to Netchaser presently), and my wirelessly connected IBM Thinkpad happens to be about 5 feet from the nearest 802.11g AP.

When I'm at home, my Apple Powerbook tends to rest about 5 feet from the 802.11g AP, as the desk, ADSL, WiFi router, and switch all tend to occupy the same location. Being on an acreage, there's no other signals to contend with. Both real world situations which would seem to compare with the tests above you take issue with.

"They all focus on throughput. Wireless communications is more about DISTANCE than it is about throughput. Show me 10 or 20 MB/s at 300 feet"

Wouldn't you say it's actually a combination? It's throughput at distance. Both are important variables.

And if it's 10 or 20MB's at 300 feet you're gung-ho for why plant your flag on 802.11b? It can't happen. There's lots of things that can improve 11g to get to that point, but not much that can get 11b to that.

Already we have one 11g chipset maker with product on the market that uses multiple simultaneous 11g or even 11b channels. It means more bandwidth available with multiple clients, and specifically that 11b clients don't bring down the network for the 11g clients. And there are smart antenna designs that can tend to direct the bandwidth to where you are and give you a better network experience at distance.

The point though is that most of this is all on the Access Point end. But not much of it will be any value to one if they don't already have an 11g chipset on the product in your hand. So I don't see your point above for sticking with 11b. The price difference is virtually none (11g access points can be had for the same $70-$80 that 11b ones can be had for), and your point that most hotspots are 11b in no way makes the case against having 11g in your handheld. I spend less time at them than I do in the 11g networks at home and office. Nor am I worried about the hotspots network security, though my own is assured by VPN session wrapping when I'm at the hotspot.


RE: Why!?!?
palmhiker @ 5/28/2004 9:42:25 AM #
Yes, good wireless communications is about a combination of distance and throughput, but if you have no connection, it doesn't matter how much throughput your AP or client is rated at - zero is zero.

My point, which maybe I didn't state very well, is that for the ideal wireless protocol, in which you get decent, useable throughput at long distances from the AP, 802.11G is not it. Maybe it's WiMAX, maybe it's something else, but I know that today I can get better range and better throughput at distance with B than I can with G - So why would I buy G, regardless of cost?

Doesn't it bother you just a little that these companies tout 54 MB/s and 104 MB/s when there is no way that you can ever get sustained, useable throughput at even half that rate? This is false advertising in its truest sense, and everytime a story like this one appears which talks about 54 MB/s, the lie gets that much larger.

RE: Why!?!?
cbowers @ 5/28/2004 10:55:35 AM #
Sure it does, I just don't get incensed because it's not the exception. The phenomenon is there to be found in Flash card file size reporting, at least in the past CD write speed reporting, to a degree it's there in Ethernet, it's there in ADSL and Cable modem speeds, it's there in EPA gas mileage claims (Hybrids stated at 54mpg when the real world is closer to 30mpg - sheesh my 10 year old sports car does better than that).

"Under promise, over deliver" is a rare commodity these days.

RE: Why!?!?
Albert Kallal @ 6/1/2004 2:37:46 AM #
>cbowers - The engineers doing the testing are RF engineers, these were real world tests. When the G cards were tested, no other cards were on that network.

Boy, that test results is ZERO information here.

I will tell you my story:

About 1.5 years ago (2 Christmas ago) I bought a whole whack of wireless stuff for my home. A few cards for some pc’s, and two PCMCIA cards for notebooks. I thought oh boy…wifi everywhere in my home. and no wiring. So, I un-packed my Linksys b router.

OF course, I tested my notebook, and realized that the whole thing is a complete and utter joke. I could barely go up one floor, and any moving to another room that was NOT above the location of the LinkSys routing in the basement would NOT prove a signal at all. What a joke.

Fast forward to this Christmas. Hum, gee a new 54 g standard. Perhaps if I get 1/5th of the connection at a longer distance. then at least it would be useable. Up to this point, wifi reception to me was complete joke.

Wow, tried this system, and 2 floors up and as far as I could get away from the box, and I was getting a 60% signal strength…enough for the card to pull in the full 54 g speed (I don’t know what the actually transfer speed would be, but this card was showing full speed virtually anywhere in the house).

Why was G so much better then B I asked? Well, the answer was simple:

99% of PCMCIA notebook cards have 100% pure crap antennas. One week later I was at clients office. I turned on my notebook, and low and behold. I was getting a wifi signal from a engineering firm (through the next business condo, and from accross the parking lot. Again, my wifi card was report a full speed signal. My friend seeing this pulled out his notebook, and shoved in his wifi card. Result? Zero signal!

He had some no-name no-brand card. I showed him how well my card pulled in that signal. (and, to be sure…I actually installed his drivers..and shoved in his card in my computer..and the result was the same…noting close to a useable signal). I told him his card was crap.

We went down to the store to purchase a card like mine. There were none left of my brand..so I though. well, it is 1.5 years later, and the liksys card could NOT be that bad like they were. He purchased the card..and went back to the office. Again, the Links card performance was crap.

So, when those engineers put in the G card, they were not testing how good, or bad the G network signal was…all they tested was the fact that the g-cards are crap compared to the b-cards! (gee, talk about stupid engineers). That test should have had the wifi router/access point set to b standard..and then test. You then change the router/access point to g standard..and test again (but DO NOT CHANGE cards on the notebook (the g cards have dual ability…do they not? Most card have both b and g ability..so why did they change cards? How dumb!) Further, perhaps a cordless phone, or some other wireless devices like the security system were using the g frequency also? Did they try changing the channel used??? Again..very bad test!).

Again..*really* stupid to conclude that the g signal does not work. How do you know it was not the PCMCIA card that was crap (by the way, all notebook PCMCIA network cards I have tried are crap expect the us-robotics one I finally got. I went and purchased another us-robotics card. and it also performs super.

So, with the crap cards. I could barely getaway from the rounter..with good cards...the signal worked EVERYWHERE in my home without even a drop in performance.

All, I repeat ALL of the other cards I have tried do not even COME CLOSE and ARE NOT ON THE SAME planet when compared to this card.

The Linksys card I tested was WPC54G-CA, and it was crap (I tested two of them).

I also tested a few other no-brand names I can’t remember.

I then tried the U.S. Robotics card. Simply put, AMAZING. In most cases where the other cards had a ZERO SIGNAL, the U.S. Robotics was at FULL STEENGHT.

I am not kidding…the difference is that much. The US Robotics card was $8 more then the liksys cards.

So, I switched to G. I have a liksys router (54g), and it works really good. If you must use PCMCIA cards…get the us.Roboties one. (USR5410 802.11g card). It says it is rated at 100mips on the front of the card……but really who cares!. The real issue is that when all the other cards did not even pull in signals this one was at full bandwidth.

Did those supposed engineers test a few different cards…or just perhaps a PCMCIA card that was crap? The differences here is likely the antenna. In all of the PCMCIA cards that I tested that worked like crap, the antenna was the SAME size, height (thickness) as the pcmpia card. (this would allow more then one card to fit into a PCMCIA slot.

In the case of the US robotics card. the antenna is humped, and thus will NOT all an additional pcmpa card in at the same time. But..you get fabulous signal strength as a result. I would also bet that PCMCIA cards with a fold up antenna would likely also have faired really good in my test…but I did not try one…

Albert D. Kallal
Edmonton, Alberta Canada
kallal@msn.com
http://www.attcanada.net/~kallal.msn


I need clarity

nlippa @ 5/26/2004 3:49:38 PM #
How does this story help me. Is there finally a WiFi SD card I can use on my T2? I do not really care if there are new and improved WiFi SD Cards for PPC after all this Palminfocenter not PPCenter. I come here week after week and still nothing. Maybe you can all help me, is there ever going to be a Palm OS5 WiFi SD card or do I have to go buy the Enfora Case.

RE: I need clarity
rikster @ 5/26/2004 6:24:33 PM #
I'm totally with you there mate. I keep checking, in the hope that either Palm will release a descent handheld with wireless, or drivers become available for the Sandisk card.

It makes me very sad to see heaps of PPC handhelds with bluetooth & wi-fi. I'm almost at the point of switching to the Dell Axim X30. I've given up waiting for PalmOne to catch up with the rest of the world. We need wireless handhelds now... not in two years time!!!!!

Cool!

Strider_mt2k @ 5/26/2004 5:48:48 PM #
Keep it coming, folks!

Fast wireless is cool, I don't care what the nay-sayers and the doom-cryers say.

This is the future.

Community Project/Contest?

achitnis @ 5/26/2004 10:08:00 PM #
Remember the contest to produce drivers for the Sony Compactflash memory/IO card access on the NV/NX? Where drivers were eventually produced by someone other than Sony, proving that it could be done (and opening up a complete new line of expansion for owners of such Sony units)?

What stops the community from doing something similar for this hardware?

If the Linux guys can produce opensource drivers for just about any piece of hardware with nary a specsheet from the manufacturer, can't the PalmOS community pull a similar rabbit out of the hat?

What it needs is someone with an understanding of APIs involved, and a bit of a hacker mindset, to buy/borrow/steal (the price includes 256 MB of storage, so it isn't a complete waste if all else fails) a card, and start digging, sharing info, etc.

Last I checked, reverse engineering was still legal (or the Linux community would have ceased to exist) and in fact encouraged (AMD v/s Intel, anyone?).

The only thing that I could see holding up such a project is if there is a physical problem - for example, if this card was incompatible with the basic PalmOS PDA hardware.



Atul Chitnis
http://atulchitnis.net

RE: Community Project/Contest?
achitnis @ 5/26/2004 10:29:00 PM #
Arrrgghhh!!! Apologies, all - I posted in the wrong thread. It should have gone here:

http://www.palminfocenter.com/comment_view.asp?ID=6846#94431


Atul Chitnis
http://atulchitnis.net

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