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802.11n access point design taps new PowerQUICC chip

May 13, 2009 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 2 views

Freescale Semiconductor and Flextronics are shipping a jointly developed reference design for an 802.11n WiFi access point. The MPC8377EWLAN 802.11N Access Point RDS is based on Freescale's newly sampling PowerQUICC II Pro MPC8377E processor, offers 300Mbps throughput, and ships with a Linux BSP and open source applications, say the companies.

Supporting the high-bandwidth, long-range 802.11n WiFi standard, the MPC8377EWLAN RDS (reference design system) can scale from 400MHz to 800MHz, with concurrent dual-band 2.4GHz and 5GHz operation and 3 x 3 MIMO technology, say the partners. With the help of the power-stingy MPC8377E system-on-chip (SoC), access points based on the design can achieve greater than 300Mbps throughput while using IEEE802.3af-compliant Power over Ethernet (PoE), claim Freescale and Flextronics.

The RDS is presumably being built by Flextronics, as suggested by the statement that the “wireless and networking product design and engineering capabilities” of the company's Shanghai-based Flextronics Infrastructure Design and Engineering group are being showcased in the product. Few details were offered on the design, except that it includes support for MiniPCI or MiniPCI Express 802.11n modules, and scales to 800MHz to support multiple radios.

The reference design is said to ship with a Linux board support package (BSP) and open source application software, as is typical with PowerQUICC-related designs. Separate applications are provided for small/medium business and enterprise wireless access points.

MPC837x PowerQUICC II Pro

The MPC837x is the latest in Freescale's family of MPC83x PowerQUICC II offerings, including its MPC8313E and later MPC8360E networking processors. The SoC is billed as the company's highest performance PowerQUICC II Pro chip to date.

MPC8377E block diagram
(Click to enlarge)

The MPC8377E is suitable for networking solutions that offer video-conferencing and voice-over-WLAN (VoWLAN) applications, and that require secure communications and VPN services, says the company. The SoC is also said to support network attached storage (NAS) and high performance printing applications.

The SoC consumes only 4.1 Watts when running at 800MHz, and can scale down to 400MHz for low-end access points, claims the company. These capabilities are said to enable 300Mbps performance on 802.11n access points, “allowing for many more users per router, as well as the ability to send huge files instantaneously,” says Freescale.

The MPC8377E incorporates a PowerPC architecture e300c4s core, with 32KB of L1 instruction and data caches and on-chip memory management units (MMUs). The SoC provides a DDR1/DDR2 SDRAM memory controller, a 32-bit local bus controller, a 32-bit PCI controller, a PCI Express interface, and an optional dedicated SEC security engine. Connectivity features include two three-speed gigabit Ethernet interfaces, and USB 2.0 support.

802.11n hitting the mainstream

The 802.11n standard is finally showing up regularly in access points, and now 802.11.n radios are even appearing with some frequency in high-end consumer devices. The technology boasts as much as twice the range of 802.11g, with better service quality and far greater bandwidth: from 300- to 600Mbps depending on the configuration. To achieve these speeds, 802.11n can use both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, adding technologies such as “channel bonding” — borrowing bandwidth from an adjacent channel — and MIMO (Multiple-In-Multiple-Out) spatial multiplexing, which uses multiple radios and antennas to simultaneously process incoming signals and thereby improve clarity.

Stated Raja Tabet, VP of Solutions Enablement Technology for Freescale's Networking & Multimedia Group, “This new solution gives our ODM and OEM customers the turnkey, production-ready solutions they need to speed time-to-market and succeed in the marketplace.”


The MPC8377EWLAN 802.11N Access Point reference design is a shipping now to OEMs, at a suggested resale price of $450, says Freescale. Samples of the Freescale MPC8377E SoC are available now, with suggested retail pricing in 10K quantities for non-encrypted versions ranging from $23-$30. More information on the MPC8377E may be found in this PDF.

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