Athena and Samsung Develop Three-Transceiver RF Device for MIMO

1/5/2005 - Athena Semiconductors, Inc. and Samsung Electronics’ Digital Media R&D Center announced a breakthrough product for the emerging wireless Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO) standard by developing the world’s first three-transceiver Radio Frequency (RF) device for MIMO in a single integrated circuit (IC). Other products require multiple devices and therefore a larger footprint. This next generation device offers the smallest footprint that even rivals existing legacy wireless standard footprints while offering compelling cost, power and seamless integration advantages.

The tight integration of the single-device, called TRINI, dramatically undermines the cost of all other solutions, which require multiple devices to implement MIMO applications. The small footprint and cost rivals even that of existing wireless device solutions, making a compelling case for implementation of MIMO-based products now to realize dramatic bandwidth and reach performance benefits promised by MIMO technology. At the heart of TRINI is OptimRFTM technology that Athena Semiconductors pioneered to build high performance Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor (CMOS) RF transceivers at low cost. OptimRF transceivers use Athena’s patent-pending, modified direct conversion architecture designed for extensive digital calibration at system level. It results in OptimRF transceivers delivering high performance at low cost due to an increase in the yield of functional RF chips.

The newly developed, OptimRF-based three-transceiver ICs aid in fulfilling MIMO’s capabilities of providing a data rate that is far higher than existing 802.11a/g standards-based equipment, increasing from 54 Megabits per second (Mbps) to more than 200 Mbps, opening up new markets for wireless vendors. All the while, Original Equipment and Original Design Manufacturers (OEM and ODM) implementing the TRINI can realize significant go-to-market advantages from this smaller footprint single-device. Use of familiar CMOS technology provides a low power-consumption, low-cost solution for MIMO implementations that also enables seamless integration all with a single device.

Athena Semiconductors and Samsung Electronics will demonstrate this breakthrough technology at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, January 6-9. The demonstration will show consistent link throughputs in excess of 50 Mbps. A transmission of two simultaneous High Definition Television (HDTV) streams and a single Standard Definition Television stream will be demonstrated to illustrate the product’s feature set. The TRINI will be available from Athena Semiconductors to select OEM and ODM partners in 1Q of 2005 and will be in mass production for availability to the general market in 2Q of 2005. Pricing will vary by quantity.

“We’re very excited about the TRINI device created by Athena Semiconductors working closely with Samsung’s Digital Media R&D team,” said Dr. JaeMoon Jo, Vice President of Samsung Electronics. “Our ability to jointly develop the market’s first single-device three-transceiver MIMO solution is a testament to the innovation, vision and capabilities of both companies. Samsung has aggressively participated in the IEEE committee to help develop the MIMO-based 802.11n standard that is expected to be widely used in Samsung consumer equipment in the future. Athena’s single-chip three-RF transceiver solution will significantly lower the cost/area/power of 802.11n standard based implementations and will help fuel the growth of 802.11n. We look forward to seeing the worldwide adoption of 802.11n-based products in environments demanding the Wi-Fi bandwidth that MIMO promises to deliver.”

“We’ve achieved a true milestone with Samsung, for MIMO and for wireless access products to deliver the solid bandwidth that MIMO promises,” said Pratap Reddy, President and COO, Athena Semiconductors. “The high levels of integration we’ve achieved enable extremely competitive pricing that make this solution viable today, even rivaling price points of existing WLAN access devices. We are excited to have Samsung Digital Media group as a user and partner in the development of this MIMO RF chip. We will also make the solution available to all OEM, ODM and other design houses worldwide.”

About MIMO
Pronounced "my-mo," the standard is also known as 802.11n because the IEEE standards body is using MIMO in its 802.11n wireless standard. MIMO seeks to use multiple transmitters and receivers (antennas) within wireless devices for much stronger bandwidth performance. The use of multiple transmitters and receivers (or transceivers) results in multiple simultaneous data streams which increases the data rate. Multiple receivers alone allow greater distances between devices. IEEE’s existing and widely deployed 802.11a and 802.11g standards deliver up to 54 Mbps bandwidth. IEEE’s new 802.11n wireless standard, using MIMO, is being defined to achieve data rates approaching 500Mbps.

Over the past few years, the Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) market has achieved strong market penetration, from the enterprise and into the home, with the IEEE’s 802.11x standards paving the way. This growth is expected to continue to blossom and MIMO-based products will stand to benefit. Market research firm Dell’Oro Group estimated earlier this year the market for 802.11 will grow 23 percent in 2004 to $2.2 billion, with strong growth continuing in 2005. In addition, research firm In-Stat/MDR has predicted total shipments of WLAN chipsets will more than double from around 25 million units in 2003 to around 55 million in 2005. The promise of additional bandwidth that MIMO delivers will open up the market for video over wireless and other advanced wireless applications not possible with today’s established wireless standards.

About Athena Semiconductors
Athena Semiconductors, Inc. is a fabless semiconductor company delivering system-on-a-chip solutions for the global wireless broadband market. The company’s standards-based products enable the delivery of wireless broadband voice, video and data services with Quality of Service capabilities to ensure high reliability. Athena’s corporate headquarters are in Fremont, California and design centers are located in Athens, Greece and Bangalore, India. The company’s global team has strong CMOS RF, Digital Signal Processor (DSP), networking IC and software expertise to deliver its high performance products to the wireless Local-, Wide- and Personal-Area-Network (LAN, WAN and PAN) markets. In two rounds of funding, Athena has raised $20 million from leading venture capitalists and organizations including Alliance Venture Management, Needham Capital Partners and Samsung Electronics Company. More information about Athena Semiconductors can be found at

About Samsung Electronics
Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. is a global leader in semiconductor, telecommunication, and digital convergence technology. Samsung Electronics employs approximately 75,000 people in 89 offices in 47 countries. The company is the world's largest producer of memory chips, TFT-LCDs, CDMA mobile phones, and monitors. Samsung Electronics consists of four main business units: Digital Media Network, Device Solution Network, Telecommunication Network and Digital Appliance Network Businesses. For more information, please visit

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