The BCM4329 from Broadcom integrates Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and FM technologies to support more media and data applications in handheld electronics without impacting size or battery life, according to the company. Not resting on this achievement, Broadcom also plans on introducing a new companion chip every 60 days over the coming months, as ABI Research says combination chips will account for nearly a third of all wireless connectivity solutions shipped in 2012.

Today’s mobile devices provide cameras, browsers, audio capabilities, and other applications that would benefit from the 802.11n standard, which offers higher throughput, more robust connections, and much greater coverage for sharing data than previous Wi-Fi technologies. The BCM4329 offers up to 50 Mbits/s of actual wireless throughput for fast file transfers while consuming less power. And with the standard’s space time block coding (STBC), the chip can maintain a connection with an access point anywhere within an expanded coverage area.

Additionally, the BCM4329’s FM transmit capabilities enable consumers to stream music directly from their mobile devices to car stereos or home theater systems without special adapters or bulky cables. With the FM receiver, users can get real-time traffic information as well as music, news, and sports broadcasts on their mobile devices.

The chip’s Bluetooth functionality provides hands-free communications, cordless data synchronization, and stereo music streaming to headphones and speakers. Since Bluetooth and Wi-Fi both operate in the 2.4-GHz band, co-existence algorithms and a shared antenna system minimize interference and provide better performance than products with separate Bluetooth and Wi-Fi solutions, according to Broadcom.

Handheld devices lack the space, battery power, and processing power to support 802.11n implementations with multiple antennas. So, the BCM4329 uses single-stream 802.11n to transmit and receive data, significantly reducing the system’s footprint and power consumption. Yet despite the use of a single antenna, the chip provides faster and more reliable connections than current 802.11g products, Broadcom says. The company also calls the BCM4329 the industry’s smallest and lowest-cost dual-band 802.11n solution.

With dual-band capabilities, Wi-Fi users can take advantage of the less crowded 5-GHz spectrum for media applications that require faster guaranteed bandwidth. To eliminate the cost and size barriers of adding dual-band functionality to mobile devices, the BCM4329 integrates 2.4- and 5-GHz power amplifiers, reducing bill-of-material costs by up to $0.75 while providing the same or better performance than solutions using external power amplifiers. This integration also cuts power consumption and makes designs based on the chip 15% smaller than those based on its predecessor for modules that are less than 75 mm2, squeezing into tight board space requirements.

The BCM4329 is now sampling to early access customers and is scheduled for significant production quantities in 2009. Pricing is available upon request.

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