SOURCE: Atheros

January 05, 2010 08:00 ET

Atheros Introduces World's First Powerline Solution to Support IEEE 1901 and HomePlug AV Standards

Atheros AMP Powerline Technology Now Delivers 500+ Mbps PHY Rates to Amplify Network Capacity and Coverage in the Digital Home

SANTA CLARA, CA--(Marketwire - January 5, 2010) - Atheros Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ: ATHR), a global leader in innovative technologies for wireless and wired communications, today announced the AR7400 chipset, the first powerline communications (PLC) solution designed to comply with the IEEE 1901 draft standard. This fourth-generation powerline chipset, which will interoperate with both 1901- and HomePlug® AV-based products, also offers standards-plus, extended spectrum operation to deliver more than 500 Mbps PHY rates, a 2.5 times improvement over currently deployed HomePlug AV products. Not only will home networks benefit from this added capacity, but they will also experience a boost of 50 percent or more in delivered throughput at nearly every outlet in the home, in effect, making every room HD-capable.

The Atheros AMP™ Powerline Technology AR7400 chipset features a faster processor, Gigabit Ethernet-ready high-speed host interface, and enhanced analog front end (AFE), all optimized for streaming HD media applications. These enhancements enable much faster powerline connections using the home's "hidden network" -- its electrical wiring -- the wired network backbone that reaches every room.

The AR7400 chipset will enable service providers to deploy a higher performance class of entertainment-grade networks that ensure reliable IPTV transmissions and HD coverage throughout the home, while virtually eliminating costly trouble shooting and service calls. Retail equipment manufacturers will also benefit from products that extend network capability and increase customer satisfaction with the enhanced home coverage.

"Incremental speed is not the only measure of an enhanced powerline solution," said Brian McGee, vice president and general manager of Atheros' powerline business unit. "To be an effective and useful solution, it must be standards-based to ensure interoperability, deliver application-capable throughput across the entire home, and meet industry standards for 'green' power efficiency. The AR7400 chipset fulfills each of these criteria and brings the added value of being based on the market-proven, carrier-certified HomePlug AV technology previously delivered by Intellon and deployed in tens of millions of homes worldwide."

AMP Teams with XSPAN to Unleash a Robust Gigabit of Home Connectivity

Atheros AMP Powerline and XSPAN® Wi-Fi solutions provide a smart combination of connectivity that increases the home's network to a Gigabit of total capacity. With the dynamic mesh of the two technologies, the bandwidth and coverage of an Atheros AMP/XSPAN network will readily meet the most intensive demands of the digital home, supporting multiple, simultaneous streams of HD content, ultra-fast Internet sharing, latency-free online gaming and computing and communications on a variety of mobile devices. With its ease of use and flexibility, almost anything can be networked anywhere in the home with the AMP Powerline/XSPAN 11n combination.

"With our commitment to delivering great, standards-based home networking products, we at NETGEAR are pleased to see Atheros deliver this first 1901 solution. It raises the performance bar for powerline, while enabling our customers who have purchased HomePlug-based products with backward compatibility and multivendor interoperability," said Chris Geiser, product line manager, NETGEAR. "In addition, we are excited about offering the ultimate digital home connectivity experience by bringing Powerline and Wi-Fi together."

"We are pleased that Atheros' new AR7400 solution is taking powerline performance to an entirely new level," said Noel Lee, Head Monster of leading audio/video accessories company Monster, which utilizes the Atheros AR7400 chipset in its new PowerNet 1G -- empowering users to bring a secure high-speed broadband connection to rooms throughout their homes. "More and more consumers' homes these days have multiple, content-hungry TVs, set top boxes and media players, and the demand for usable, high-QoS throughput is growing rapidly. We expect to meet that demand with a lineup of compelling Atheros AMP-based products such as our new PowerNet 1G, bringing HD-capable connectivity to every room in the home."

The AR7400 Chipset

The Atheros Powerline chipset consists of the AR7400 MAC/PHY transceiver and the AR1500 analog front end (AFE) / line driver. The AR7400 chipset is the world's first solution designed to comply to the IEEE 1901 draft 2.0 standard (now elevated to Sponsor Letter Ballot status), a global, open powerline standard. Just as the IEEE 802.11 standard unified and accelerated the growth of the wireless LAN industry, the IEEE 1901 standard will help to unify and drive the expansion of the powerline networking industry. The 1901 standard utilizes a wider operating frequency band (2 MHz to 50 MHz) than the current HomePlug AV standard (2MHz to 30 MHz), thereby increasing PHY performance in IEEE 1901 operation. The AR7400 chipset will comply with the FFT-OFDM provision of 1901 and incorporates the inter-PHY protocol (IPP) co-existence mechanism.

The chipset also supports operation up to 75 MHz, utilizing all of the practically available spectrum defined in the 100 MHz IEEE 1901 charter, and avoiding the global, high-power FM radio broadcast bands from 76 to 108MHz. This extended frequency range coupled with high density modulation to 4096 QAM, allow AR7400-based powerline products to communicate at more than 500 Mbps PHY rates. In coaxial cable applications, the PHY rates can exceed 600 Mbps, while providing extended coverage due to the AR1500's lower noise floor and greater output dynamic range.

The AR7400 chipset complies with the stringent European Code of Conduct (CoC) on Energy Efficiency and the European Union's Energy-using Products (EuP) Directive for low power, green energy operation. It also consumes 40 percent less active power than the nearest competitor, eliminating the need for large, expensive heat sinks.

The AR7400 has an integrated ARM11 core processor and includes MII, RGMII, and GMII to support 10/100/1000 Ethernet PHYs along with UART and SPI serial interfaces for Smart Grid applications. It supports both SDRAM and DDR memory and includes a high-performance, hardware-based packet classification engine to support carrier-grade quality of service (QoS), dynamic channel adaptation and channel estimation to maximize throughput in harsh powerline conditions. The AR7400 is pin-compatible with the INT6400 and is packaged in a 15 x 15 mm, RoHS-compliant 196-LBGA.

The AR1500 AFE IC integrates a Tx filter, programmable-gain line driver and programmable-gain Rx amplifier. It is pin-compatible to the INT1400, RoHS compliant and packaged in a 5 x 5 mm, 32 QFN.

For customers with INT6400-based solutions, the AR7400 chipset provides seamless migration to an IEEE 1901 solution. Atheros provides two complete AR7400 reference designs for a production-ready, single-board Ethernet wall adapter:

--  RD7400-GE IEEE 1901/HomePlug AV-Gigabit Ethernet adapter
--  RD7400-FE IEEE 1901/HomePlug AV-Fast Ethernet adapter

Each RD7400 kit is a complete reference design including case, BOM, Gerbers, schematics, board layouts, and mechanical specifications. The reference designs cover U.S., British and Euro plug types.

Product Availability

The AR7400 chipset will sample in the first quarter with priority customers.

About Atheros Powerline Communications Technology

Through the successful completion of the acquisition of Intellon Corporation in December 2009, Atheros has added industry-leading powerline communications technology to its networking solutions portfolio. Intellon-engineered powerline solutions have been deployed by over 50 service provider companies and by major OEMs to most regions of Europe, Asia and the U.S. Nearly 40 million HomePlug-based ICs have been shipped and Intellon technology has been incorporated into HomePlug and IEEE 1901 standards.

About Atheros Communications, Inc.

Atheros Communications is a global leader in innovative technologies for wireless and wired communications. Atheros combines its wireless and networking systems expertise with high-performance radio frequency (RF), mixed signal and digital semiconductor design skills to provide highly integrated chipsets that are manufactured on low-cost, standard complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS) processes. Atheros technology is used by a broad base of leading customers, including personal computer, networking equipment and consumer device manufacturers. For more information, please visit or send an email to

Atheros and the Atheros logo, AMP and XSPAN are trademarks of Atheros Communications, Inc. HomePlug is a registered trademark of the HomePlug Powerline Alliance, Inc. All other trademarks mentioned in this document are the sole property of their respective owners.


Except for the historical information contained herein, the matters set forth in this press release, including the features, benefits and performance of Atheros' products and the anticipated growing demand for powerline products, are forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially, including, but not limited to, difficulties in the development of new and enhanced products, general economic conditions, the effects of competition and technological change, and the risks detailed in Atheros' Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2008 and its Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended September 30, 2009, as filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, and in other reports filed with the SEC by Atheros from time to time. These forward-looking statements speak only as of the date hereof. Atheros disclaims any obligation to update these forward-looking statements.

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