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Atheros Hits the PC Sweet Spot With Single-Chip 802.11n

SANTA CLARA, Calif., Nov. 8 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Atheros Communications, Inc. (Nasdaq: ATHR), a leading developer of advanced wireless solutions, today announced the world's most integrated, most compact, single-chip 802.11n solutions for the PC market. The new dual-band AR9280 and single-band AR9281 PCI Express (PCIe) designs join the Atheros XSPAN(TM) family, the most widely adopted draft 802.11n Wi-Fi technology worldwide. Both have been expressly designed to satisfy the requirements of PC OEMs focused on delivering the high-performance benefits of 802.11n in mainstream consumer and enterprise notebook platforms.

SANTA CLARA, Calif., Nov. 8 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — Atheros Communications, Inc. (Nasdaq: ATHR), a leading developer of advanced wireless solutions, today announced the world's most integrated, most compact, single-chip 802.11n solutions for the PC market. The new dual-band AR9280 and single-band AR9281 PCI Express (PCIe) designs join the Atheros XSPAN(TM) family, the most widely adopted draft 802.11n Wi-Fi technology worldwide. Both have been expressly designed to satisfy the requirements of PC OEMs focused on delivering the high-performance benefits of 802.11n in mainstream consumer and enterprise notebook platforms.

In these latest draft 802.11n PCIe solutions, Atheros has applied its radio frequency (RF) design expertise in standard digital CMOS and efficient wireless system architecture to leap forward in integration and solution cost. The resulting products will enable PC manufacturers to accelerate the transition of their platforms from legacy 802.11a/g to the latest 802.11a/g/n or 802.11g/n technology. With the new AR9280 and AR9281, Atheros now offers the most comprehensive and competitive single-chip PCIe solution lineup, from entry-level 11g to high performance 11a/g/n.

"Atheros' new single-chip XSPAN solutions are designed to help our PC customers supercharge the performance of core notebook platforms with 802.11n technology," said Ben Naskar, vice president and general manager of the Wireless Networking Business Unit for Atheros. "Our innovative approach to chip and total system design allows us to deliver 11n performance at costs that intersect legacy Wi-Fi technology — the PC market sweet spot."

Atheros-Class 802.11n Integration

The AR9280 and AR9281 integrate the radio, baseband/MAC and host PCIe interface into a single-chip. These new solutions feature the company's most silicon area-efficient WLAN radio design to date, and deliver the industry's smallest 802.11n footprint in a 10mm x 10mm QFN package. Reference designs are available for both PCIe half-Mini Card and full-Mini Card form factors and achieve new levels of system integration with up to 50 percent fewer components than competitive solutions. The half-Mini Card is the smallest PCIe form factor, providing PC manufacturers with enhanced design flexibility to develop ultra-compact laptops or embed additional Mini Cards with complimentary technologies.

"Atheros' latest 802.11n chips not only provide excellent throughput and range, but are also optimized for low power consumption, which remains a critical element in any mobile computer or communicator," said Craig Mathias, a principal with the wireless and mobile advisory firm Farpoint Group (Ashland, Mass.). "And packing all of this functionality into a single-chip product continues to demonstrate Atheros' mastery of semiconductor design and manufacturing technologies."

Performance/Price Design Options

To date, most PC OEMs have offered 802.11n primarily in select, high-end laptop models. The new AR9280 and AR9281 allow manufacturers to enhance their core product portfolios with two distinct 11n design options:

The AR9280 dual-band (2.4GHz and 5GHz) 2×2 MIMO PCIe design targets enterprise and high-end consumer notebooks. The solution provides leading 802.11a/g/n performance supporting up to 300 Mbps physical data rates, which enables up to 10 times the throughput and more than twice the range of 802.11a/g solutions. With this dual-band design, users will enjoy universal connectivity to any 802.11 network.

The AR9281 single-band (2.4GHz) 1×2 MIMO PCIe design targets the lowest cost, lowest-power 802.11g/n solution for mainstream consumer PCs. The 1×2 configuration delivers 300 Mbps PHY rates on the receive side, while providing up to 150 Mbps in transmit. The 1×2 design is, today, the lowest cost MIMO configuration able to obtain Wi-Fi Draft 11n certification for PCs.

Industry-Leading Power Efficiency

The AR9280 and AR9281 provide the highest level of 802.11n WLAN throughput, which allows PCs to remain in sleep-mode longer to extend battery life. Additionally, they feature Atheros' innovative system-level power-savings protocols, algorithms and circuit design techniques which include:

— Dynamic MIMO Power Save (DMPS) conserves total system power by seamlessly downshifting to 1×1 MIMO operation when small amounts of data need to be transmitted or received. When the notebook is transmitting or receiving light traffic, the WLAN solution intelligently recognizes the reduced communications requirement and conserves power by switching to 1×1 mode. If the notebook begins heavy content transmissions, the WLAN automatically switches to the original 2×2 or 1×2 mode to ensure enhanced 802.11n performance. DMPS also senses if the notebook is plugged into AC or battery-power, and dynamically adjusts its MIMO mode to achieve an optimal performance/power balance. — Unscheduled Automatic Power Save Delivery (UAPSD) increases a notebook's sleep time while transmitting real-time, moderate bandwidth traffic such as voice, audio and standard definition video. Typically, WLAN systems must spend significant time "listening" for transmissions to come from the access point (AP). With UAPSD, the AP sends the downlink traffic immediately after the client device requests the transmission, allowing the client to return to sleep much faster. Atheros' simulated-UAPSD technology brings power-saving benefits to PCs even when connected to legacy access points which do not have UAPSD intelligence. — Atheros Wake-on-Wireless(R) allows the host system to go into very low-power standby mode, but be awakened at any time by the network, or a remote device. The AR9280 and AR9281 chips support this operation by processing incoming packets independently, and waking the host only when a message requesting the host system take action arrives. This feature allows the notebook to remain in a low power state until the network or a remote device requests information.

Product Configurations and Availability

The configurations launched today feature options to optimize the balance of performance, power and price:

— AR9280: 11n dual-band 2×2 MIMO for PCIe — AR9281: 11n single-band 1×2 MIMO for PCIe — PCIe reference designs for full Mini Card and half-Mini Card

These solutions support Windows XP(R), Windows Vista(R), Mac OS(R) and Linux(R) operating systems. In addition, they include support for industry standards WMM(R) (Wi-Fi Multimedia(TM)), Wi-Fi Protected Setup(TM) via Atheros' JumpStart for Wireless(TM), the company's industry standardized simple network configuration software, and Cisco Compatible Extensions (CCX).

The Atheros AR9280 and AR9281 solutions are currently sampling to customers and will be in volume production in the first quarter of 2008.

About Atheros Communications, Inc.

Atheros Communications is a leading developer of semiconductor system solutions for wireless and other network communications products. Atheros combines its wireless and networking systems expertise with high-performance radio frequency (RF), mixed signal and digital semiconductor design skills to provide highly integrated chipsets that are manufactured on low-cost, standard complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS) processes. Atheros technology is used by a broad base of leading customers, including personal computer, networking equipment and consumer device manufacturers. For more information, please visit http://www.atheros.com or send email to info@atheros.com.

Atheros, the Atheros logo, XSPAN, Dynamic MIMO Power Save, Wake-on-Wireless and JumpStart for Wireless are trademarks of Atheros Communications, Inc. All other trademarks mentioned in this document are the sole property of their respective owners.

NOTE ON FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS:

Except for the historical information contained herein, the matters set forth in this press release, including statements regarding the features, benefits and performance of Atheros' AR9280 and AR9281 and the expected timing of volume production of these products; are forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These forward-looking statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially, including, but not limited to, difficulties in the development and production of new and enhanced products, and the risks detailed in Atheros' Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2006 and its Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended September 30, 2007, as filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, and in other reports filed with the SEC by Atheros from time to time. These forward-looking statements speak only as of the date hereof. Atheros disclaims any obligation to update these forward-looking statements.

SOURCE Atheros Communications, Inc.

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