Broadcom combines 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, FM radio on one chip

John Cox
9 December, 2008
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Broadcom Monday is unveiling a chip that packages 802.11n, enhanced data rate Bluetooth, and FM radio for mobile phones.

The new BCM4329 is the first Broadcom product to support high-throughput 802.11n Wi-Fi on handsets. The chipmaker’s earlier 802.11abg/Bluetooth/FM chip is in production in several commercially available products.

The 65-nanometer chip supports 802.11n in both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, and can run simultaneously in both. Given the constraints of handset size and power, the chip supports only one 802.11n data stream and one antenna, compared with notebooks or access points that typically support two or possibly three streams, each with a corresponding antenna. The chip’s Wi-Fi performance maxes out at 50Mbps of wireless throughput, according to the vendor. That’s still nearly twice the throughput of 802.11a or 802.11g Wi-Fi.

It supports Bluetooth data rates of 1Mbps, 2Mbps, and 3Mbps, based on the Bluetooth 2.1 specification with enhanced data rate. The chip uses Broadcom algorithms to all Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to operate at the same time in the 2.4GHz band, and to use a shared antenna system.

To minimise power requirements, Broadcom has used several techniques to reduce both active and idle power consumption.

The chip supports FM transmit, enabling the chip to stream music between devices; and FM receive, enabling a handset to work as standard FM radio.

The chip is available for sampling to selected customers, with production quantities available in 2009.

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