BARCELONA?Get ready for super Wi-Fi. The new 802.11ac standard, which isn’t even yet a standard, aims to boost wireless speeds well beyond what they are right now, approaching a gigabit per second. Today Marvell announced an 802.11ac-compatible chipset that can fold super-fast Wi-Fi, Near Field Communication (NFC), and Bluetooth into printers, portable gaming devices, and pretty much all the gadgets in your house.
Think of 802.11ac as about connecting devices within a home or office, not as an Internet connection, because most Web connections will be much slower than the new local-area standard. Marvell’s new low-cost Avastar chip is designed for a wide range of home electronics, Samir Bidichandani, Senior Director of Technology Strategy at Marvell said.
The still-coalescing standard could make Wi-Fi displays and color printing, especially, much smoother.
“Marvell enables about 90 percent of Wi-Fi enabled printers, and we ship Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi/Bluetooth into gaming platforms,” Bidichandani said. “The new PlayStation Vita has Marvell Wi-Fi in it.”
The main danger with buying an 802.11ac gadget is that some early devices won’t be entirely compatible with each other. That’s what happened with some “pre-N” Wi-Fi routers before 802.11n reached draft stage. Of course, that hasn’t stopped Buffalo and D-Link from announcing 802.11ac products.
“I’m hoping us silicon vendors have learned our lesson,” Bidichandani said. “I can’t promise you the solutions will play nice on day one. Being first is important. But making sure you have the right solution to interoperate is more important. We’re trying to enable a product that’s easy to use and interoperates.”
Like Texas Instruments’ latest WiLink , the new Avastar chip will also include NFC essentially for free. Bidichandani sees NFC as an easy way for Wi-Fi or Bluetooth devices to find and pair with each other.
“You tap your tablet to your printer, and it just prints; touch your tablet to your TV, and it forms that Wi-Fi display link,” he said. “We have Wi-Fi direct in many handsets today, but very few people know what to do with it.” Adding NFC to get two Wi-Fi devices to link with each other solves the whole confusing Wi-Fi network login process.
The new Avastar chips will arrive later this year, he said.
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