D-Link first to announce draft 11n products

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D-Link first to announce draft 11n products

Fountain Valley (CA) – D-Link today announced that its first products based on Draft 802.11n technology from Atheros will be available this month. This announcement signals the start of a series of announcements expected in advance of next month’s Interop Las Vegas 2006 show.

The D-Link RangeBooster N 650 series includes the RangeBooster N 650 router (DIR-635), Desktop Adapter (DWA-547), and CardBus Adapter (DWA-645). All products will be available “later this month” with suggested retail prices of $160, $120 and $100 respectively. The RangeBooster N 650 USB 2.0* Adapter (DWA-142) is also coming, but not until “Q3 2006”.

The products are the first that use Atheros’ AR5008 “xspaN” chipset, which is based on the Draft 802.11n specifications. This is not a surprise, given D-Link’s use of Atheros chipsets in most of its 802.11g products.

D-Link’s announcement, however, seems to be taking a conservative approach regarding high throughput – the key value-add for 802.11n. The only hard throughput number provided is in a reference to 802.11n’s goal being “to equal and/or surpass 100 Mb/s speeds”. The information on the RangeBooster N 650 product web pages says only that the products “deliver[s] real world performance of up to 650% faster than a 802.11g wireless connection”.

The other downer for wireless performance speed freaks is that the router includes only a 10/100 Ethernet switch. This is significant in that without a gigabit switch, bandwidth for individual users will be limited to 100 Mb/s, no matter how high the wireless throughput provided. This no-gigabit approach is the same as taken by Netgear with its RangeMax 240 router that is based on Airgo’s 240 Mbps MIMO technology, which is not draft-11n compliant.

Also not mentioned in D-Link’s announcement is whether its Atheros-based products will avoid interfering with legacy 802.11b and 11g products. Tom’s Networking Guide found that Netgear’s RangeMax 240 essentially shut down neighboring legacy LANs when operated with its default settings. The culprit is the use of a 40MHz wide band required to achieve application-level throughput above 100 Mb/s coupled with the product’s inability to automatically switch back to using a standard 20MHz wide band when in the presence of legacy WLANs.

A group of 802.11n IEEE taskground members has been formed to address this issue, but the 802.11n 1.0 draft currently allows for “draft-compliant” products to severly interfere with existing 802.11b and g networks.


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