Atheros Launches AR3031 ROCm Bluetooth SoC for Headsets

Atheros Communications, Inc. (Nasdaq: ATHR), a leading developer of advanced wireless solutions, announced the second member of its growing ROCm(TM) family of Bluetooth wireless solutions — the Atheros AR3031. This system-on-chip (SoC) meets the growing demand for Bluetooth wireless mono headsets by providing a powerful combination of market-leading power-efficiency, design flexibility and cost.

The solution employs Atheros’ leading RF CMOS and systems engineering expertise to deliver the industry’s lowest bill-of-materials (BOM) cost using an economical, single-chip, 5mm x 5mm QFN package, while most competitive solutions use more expensive BGA packages. The AR3031 also features an integrated, high-density Read-Only Memory, which provides greater cost-efficiencies over higher-priced, competitive Flash-based solutions.

Demand for Bluetooth wireless mono headsets has continued to increase at a dramatic 30 percent pace over the last 12 months, driven by cellular phone users’ desire for hands-free operation and the widespread development of related driving legislation. According to IMS Research, by 2009 the total worldwide market for Bluetooth-enabled wireless headsets will be 127 million; 110 million for low-cost mono headsets; 17 million for stereo audio headsets (1).

“With Atheros’ AR3031, the company is addressing the second-largest Bluetooth market, significantly expanding our presence in the Bluetooth arena,” said Sam Endy, vice president and general manager of the Mobile Wireless Business Unit for Atheros. “The AR3031 delivers unprecedented levels of power-efficiency and design flexibility, while driving a highly aggressive price point to give our customers a competitive edge.”

Industry’s Lowest-Power Bluetooth for Headsets
The AR3031 achieves 20 percent greater power efficiency in active mode than competitive solutions. This is accomplished with Atheros-designed power-saving protocols, chip architecture and circuit techniques. The SoC employs Atheros’ proprietary Direct Memory Access (DMA) protocol, a power-savings mechanism which allows devices to transfer data with minimal CPU involvement. The AR3031 architecture also features power refinements achieved through circuit design techniques, including fine-grained clock gating and use of voltage islands, and also features an integrated low-power oscillator. Additional power savings are derived with the design’s 1.2V power supply which offers greater battery efficiency than that found in competitive solutions.

Optimal Design Flexibility
The highly-versatile AR3031 SoC supports standard codec interfaces, allowing designers to utilize the solution in virtually any Bluetooth wireless headset design. To enable easy headset feature customization, the solution offers a PC-based design platform, Atheros Headset Studio, which allows OEMs to create product differentiation with custom ring tones, button function configurations, LED light patterns and other consumer-friendly product attributes. The solution features all the necessary profiles and software integrated into the chipset’s firmware and also supports a range of external codecs with DSP capabilities for advanced audio processing. The solution’s completeness enables ease of porting to provide manufacturers with significant time-to-market advantage.

Additional Features
The AR3031 solution features an integrated 32-bit CPU, 32 KB RAM and RF Switch, and does not require an external Balun. It includes a PCM interface for audio, as well as general purpose input/outputs (GPIOs) for LEDs and buttons, and dual 1.2V voltage regulators on-board.

Product Availability
The AR3031 is 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.

Atheros, the Atheros logo and ROCm are trademarks of Atheros Communications, Inc. The Bluetooth(R) word mark and logos are owned by the Bluetooth SIG, Inc. and any use of such marks by Atheros is under license.

(1) “The Worldwide Market for Bluetooth Technology” IMS Research, 2007 Edition