Atmel Targets Wi-Fi Phones with Highly Integrated Voice Over IP Chip

12/11/2003 - Atmel® Corporation (Nasdaq: ATML) announced a chip specifically designed for wireless Voice over IP (VoIP) applications. The AT76C901 is capable of running VoIP software, firmware enabling 802.11b (Wi-Fi®) and voice compression and decompression all on a single chip. Atmel's VoIP chip is so integrated that it requires only an SDRAM, flash, LCD display, keypad, battery, 802.11b baseband and RF front-end to comprise an entire wireless VoIP phone. The AT76C901 consists of an ARM7TDMI® RISC processor for running VoIP protocol stacks and two subsystems. One subsystem consists also of an ARM7 and 802.11b Media Access Controller (MAC) and implements the 802.11b capability. The second subsystem consists of an OakDSPCore® and integrated voice codec. The OAK performs voice compression and decompression to the ITU standards such as G.711, G.723.1 and G.729ab. This architecture is unique and allows many simultaneous operations to happen without disrupting any time critical operations that need to happen within the different subsystems. Additionally, because of the level of integration, the AT76C901-based system consumes little power, and allows talk and stand-by times that are required for a VoIP phone.

Atmel's AT76C901 leverages designs incorporated in Atmel's WLAN client devices as well as firmware and software in production for several years. Because the 802.11 MAC executes firmware to implement the 802.11b protocol, it has the flexibility to upgrade to newer standards as they become ratified. For example, the AT76C901 today supports e-DCF (enhanced Distributed Coordinated Function) for Quality of Service (QoS). E-DCF is one of the proposed QoS standards within IEEE802.11e. The standard for QoS, however, is not yet ratified. Once 802.11e is ratified, Atmel's device can easily be upgraded with new firmware, should it be required, thus complying with the standard. Atmel selected the VxWorks® real-time operating system (RTOS) from Wind River to run the AT76C901. This broadly used RTOS offers product developers a robust, well-supported platform for application development. VxWorks supports the TCP/IP stack used on the phone as well as several other networking protocols such as TCP, UDP DHCP client, etc.

Atmel's design has already been very well received in the market and has been selected by several major Tier one OEM and ODM makers, one of which has already announced their product.

"Atmel is very excited about the introduction of this chip. When used with Atmel's previously announced AT76C511 WLAN Access Point, customers can have a VoIP system that routes their voice calls wirelessly to the wired network and then to a gateway. With the WLAN market growing as quickly as it is, this device as a wireless VoIP phone allows business enterprises the ability to leverage their WLAN infrastructures in order to lower their long distance phone charges. Additionally, as the number of hot-spots continues to grow, VoIP phone services could also become available at these sites," said George Zapantes, VoIP Project Leader of Atmel's Multimedia and Communications Product Group.

To facilitate quick time-to-market and reduce engineering costs, a complete reference design kit (AT76C901-DK) using the RF Micro Devices® (Nasdaq: RFMD) baseband (RF3000), single-chip RF transceiver (RF2958) and Power Amplifier (RF5117) is available to qualified customers. Included with the kit are complete schematics, Bill of Materials, gerbers and software. The VoIP stack supported by Atmel is SIP (Session Initiated Protocol). The SIP stack is compliant to the latest RFC3261. Other software provided is the firmware for the 802.11b, the voice codecs (G.711, G.723.1 and G.729ab, requires a license) and the VxWorks real-time operating system (requires a license).

The AT76C901, packaged in a 217-pin uBGA, is now released to production. Pricing for the AT76C901 starts around ~$22 at 50K units.

About Atmel
Founded in 1984, Atmel Corporation is headquartered in San Jose, California with manufacturing facilities in North America and Europe. Atmel designs, manufactures and markets worldwide, advanced logic, mixed-signal, nonvolatile memory and RF semiconductors. Atmel is also a leading provider of system-level integration semiconductor solutions using CMOS, BiCMOS, SiGe, and high-voltage BCDMOS process technologies.

Atmel, the Atmel logo and combinations thereof are registered trademarks of Atmel Corporation. Wi-Fi is a registered trademark of Wireless Ethernet Compatibility Alliance, Inc. OakDSPCore is a registered trademark of Parthusceva, Inc. ARM7TDMI is a registered trademark of Arm Limited. VxWorks is a registered trademark of Wind River Systems, Inc. RF Micro Devices is a registered trademark of RF Micro Devices, Inc.

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