Marvell today launched their newest combo solution for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 and NFC. The Avastar 88W8897 is their latest and greatest chip which brings together cutting edge wireless technologies together in a single small package. The 88W8897 delivers 802.11ac Wi-Fi at speeds up to 867 mbps per channel via a 2x2 MIMO Wi-Fi arrangement. In addition to delivering the latest Wi-Fi standard, which has yet to even gain broad market adoption, the 88W8897 also delivers Bluetooth 4.0 and NFC (near field communications).
This chip also features an integrated location engine which improves the ability of users to accurately find themselves inside of places where GPS and mobile networks are weak. With the use of their WiFi 11v ToA they are able to help people to navigate easily within a building as long as Wi-Fi signal is strong enough. This chip does support dual band Wi-Fi meaning that it operates at both 2.4 and 5 GHz frequencies. This chip also enables simultaneous dual-band connectivity so that you can connect via a laptop or tablet on one band (2.4 GHz) and rebroadcast that signal to another device on the other band (5 GHz). Additionally, Marvell's chip also supports A/B/G/N in addition to AC and allows for Tx beamforming (on N) like many of Marvell's other wireless products. This allows for beamforming routers to attain greater range as well as a more even coverage area.
The primary goal of this chip is to expand Marvell's position in a market that they have not traditionally participated in. This market is the laptop and tablet market, with Marvell's focus being primarily on Ultrabooks and tablet PCs. Because of the design of this chip it has no impact on power when on standby and also has a significant size reduction of approximately 40% over the previous generation wireless chips while adding increased functionality. This is a result of Marvell's having the chips manufactured at 40nm with die shrinks planned in the future.
In addition to this, since Marvell is more of a solutions company, they have been successfully bundling their wireless solutions with their Armada applications processors which can be found in many set top boxes. With the addition of the Armada processors to this newest wireless chip, we are likely to see many more wireless set top boxes that enable you to connect your iPad wirelessly to your TV through Bluetooth 4.0. Marvell claims an attach rate of nearly 100% of their wireless connectivity products when paired with an Armada processor, so Marvell will likely start bundling these with their Armada processors very soon.
As far as a two chip solution goes, Marvell has admitted that as the industry moves towards a more integrated approach there is a strong chance that we may see their wireless connectivity products integrated into their Armada series processors. This would essentially turn their Armada processors into full SoCs with processing and broad connectivity capabilities. And since the 88W8897 already has individually gated radios, they have already worked out the ability to turn off Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and NFC individually without having to shut down the whole chip like past products from other companies.
Expect to find this chip from many OEMs during Computex and through the rest of this year in a various array of Ultrabooks and tablets.
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