Texas Instruments (TI) today announced a new chip that may ultimately result in longer-range, faster wireless networking technology compatible with Apple’s AirPort hardware. And while the product announcement doesn’t mean that TI’s licensees are going to rush to the Mac with new product introductions, it does reinforce the idea that Apple has been on the right track with its support of AirPort as the wireless networking standard.
The new chip is called the ACX100, and is expected to ship in production systems slated for the fourth quarter of this year. TI is offering licensees three reference designs: a PC card, Mini-PCI card, and a USB interface.
The ACX100 is designed to support 802.11b, the same wireless networking standard used in Apple’s AirPort and other “Wi-Fi” compliant systems. TI claims the new chip increases wireless LAN coverage areas, resulting in “a 30 percent linear reach improvement.”
TI explained that the ACX100 chip features upgradeable firmware, which means it can implement evolving IEEE standards, such as 802.11e and 802.11i, which feature improved quality of service and better security, respectively. The chip also supports a 22Mbit per second “high rate” mode that works twice as fast as existing 802.11b networks.
TI said that it expects to take its reference designs through the WECA “Wi-Fi” certification process, which will give it the official stamp of approval when it comes to making sure that devices based on this new chip will operate on AirPort networks and other wireless environments that are Wi-Fi certified.