Tiny Low-Power Wi-Fi Chip Takes Aim At Handsets
By Mark Frauenfelder, Fri May 28 15:15:00 GMT 2004

A Japanese company has announced a new chip that looks to solve the two biggest obstacles keeping Wi-Fi out of mobile handsets.

There are two reasons why Wi-Fi hasn't shown up in many mobile phones. First, the chipset is relatively large, and second, Wi-Fi is a real battery hog.

Both of these problems appear to have been eliminated in one fell swoop with the announcement of a tiny chip that draws just one milliwatt of power (compared to 50 milliwatts for a typical Wi-Fi circuit.)

The company that makes the chip, Alps Electric of Japan, is targeting mobile phones first, but also plans to make the chip for PDAs and cameras. The first phones to feature built-in Wi-Fi should be out by the end of the year, but until chips that solve the power and size problems are available cheaply and in large numbers, Wi-Fi is likely to remain only in the highest-end phones.