CSR Launches UniFi; Single-Chip Embedded ICs for Wi-Fi

CSR Launches UniFi; Single-Chip Embedded ICs for Wi-Fi


Halfway through 2005, you can expect to start seeing a whole range of new wireless enabled devices; from Wi-Fi Tvs, to printers and stoves. CSR has developed two different affordable and small single-chip solutions for Wi-Fi.

The UniFi-1 Portable (5.8 x 6.4mm) is an 802.11b/g, single band chip for ultra-small applications like cellphones, the UniFi-1 Consumer (8 x 8mm) is an 802.11a/b/g, dual band chip, aimed at consumer electronics applications.

See press release below.

CSR Puts Wi-Fi in the Pocket; CSR Launches UniFi, a Range of Single-Chip Embedded ICs for Wi-Fi

CSR plc today built on the company’s position as the leader in Bluetooth silicon and launched a range of true single-chip Wi-Fi devices which deliver unparalleled size, power, performance and cost advantages to Wi-Fi product designers. CSR’s UniFi devices offer designers the first Wi-Fi solution specifically targeted at mass-market cellphones and other pocket sized consumer products such as digital cameras and

MP3 players.

CSR’s UniFi combines up to three Wi-Fi standards into a true single-chip. CSR’s first UniFi products are: UniFi-1 Portable (802.11b/g, single band) in an ultra-small package for cellphones; and UniFi-1 Consumer (802.11a/b/g, dual band) aimed at both cellphones and other consumer electronics applications. UniFi devices will start sampling in late Q4, 2004 with full production before mid-2005.

“Although new players in a fast-moving market, CSR has introduced Wi-Fi products that differentiate it from the rest of the crowd in terms of physical size, power consumption, and total cost,” said Will Strauss, president of market watcher Forward Concepts.

Strauss continued, “UniFi-1 is the first true single-chip a/b/g MAC, RF, modem and baseband Wi-Fi solution on the market, specifically targeted at cellular phone and other embedded, battery powered applications.”

UniFi-1 Portable is available in a 5.8×6.4mm CSP; UniFi-1 Consumer is available in an 8x8mm BGA package. CSR has achieved these size reductions by integrating the RF, modem, baseband and MAC into a true single chip. CSR has also eliminated the need for external flash – the consumer version contains an integrated flash memory.

UniFi is unique in being developed specifically for embedded applications. A simple SDIO interface and hardware MAC (media access controller) makes UniFi a true single-chip system. A hard MAC is essential for embedded applications because host processors do not have the processing power for a soft MAC implementation.

Because UniFi does not rely on a host processor, it is also ideal for embedding Wi-Fi in consumer electronics devices such as DVD or video players and plasma screens. And because UniFi is a complete single-chip embedded solution, with all the firmware on-chip, time to market and design costs are minimised.

Both UniFi-1 Portable and Consumer devices employ spatial diversity techniques (a subset of MIMO) to deliver high-speed performance over a longer distance than any other WLAN device. Simultaneous reception and correlation of the signal through two antennas and receivers, rather than simple switching between antennas, maximises data throughput over the entire range.

It is important for RF performance that the Wi-Fi radio is able to coexist in very close proximity to GSM/CDMA and Bluetooth radios already present in the handset.

UniFi is optimised to minimise spurious emissions in the cellular phone bands and to

not be blocked by co-located cellular transmitters. All commonly used frequency/time domain coexistence schemes are implemented for other 2.4GHz wireless standards including Bluetooth.

UniFi-1 is priced at less than US$8, the lowest cost solution in the market — considerably less than alternative multi-chip solutions. Because UniFi-1 also requires very few external components, the external component BOM (bill of materials) is less than $1 for both UniFi-1 Portable and UniFi-1 Consumer devices.

In-Stat/MDR principal analyst Allen Nogee stated, “Cellular users are increasingly using their handsets to access, store, play and share high bandwidth video media to and from other devices including hotspots, PCs and other users. With its low power and other key features, CSR’s UniFi chip family seems well suited for the Wi-Fi handset market, which In-Stat is forecasting will exceed 220 million in 2009.”

UniFi is CSR’s first non-Bluetooth product range. CSR’s Bluetooth devices are found in over 50 million products today, 15 million of those are cellular handsets. CSR’s experience of the technology, and its understanding of customers’ requirement for deeply embedded wireless capability, have been employed in UniFi, a product set to revolutionise the WLAN market by bringing it to smaller, portable devices. In UniFi, CSR has fine-tuned Wi-Fi technology, significantly driving down its size and cost and, together with readily deployable software, offers cellular OEMs a genuine competitive advantage.