Chipmaker Atheros has introduced a new 802.11n router chip solution designed to meet the intense demand for video and other high-bandwidth transmissions.

The vendor introduced what it calls the world's first three-stream router solution that boosts throughput of 802.11n routers by 50% across an entire link.

While the 802.11n standard allows for multiple-stream applications that eventually will drive 802.11n equipment to transmit data speeds of up to 600 Mbps, most of today's existing routers are based on the dual-stream version of the standard that offers speeds of up to 300 Mbps.

Atheros' three-stream chip solution is designed to bump up the speed of 802.11n to 450 Mbps and provides the ability to throttle back data rates to reduce packet loss and latency. Other standards-based algorithms are used to monitor the airwaves and transmit video over "clean" channels to minimize interference. As a result, Atheros-based products can maintain sufficient throughput to support three simultaneous HD video streams, said Reynette Au, vice president of marketing and alliances with Atheros.

"The three-stream capability allows not only increased bandwidth, but it's smart about what it does in terms of taking advantage of the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands," Au said. "We think that kind of application is what the enterprise wants to support, because the demand to run multiple applications is increasing. ... It's safe to say that the enterprise consumes a lot of resources, with video being the biggest one. IP phone calling is another one. Those types of use models are reaching the point where reliability, as well as the guaranteed bandwidth, are becoming critical factors for a lot of people."

Many enterprise deployments of 802.11n not only utilize the 2.4 GHz band but the less-crowded 5 GHz band. The idea is to push higher-bandwidth applications to the 5 GHz band, while general-use applications such as email remain on the 2.4 GHz band. The 2.4 GHz band is now fraught with interference from a number of competing devices.

Atheros said its three-stream WLAN solutions have been optimized for use with leading network processors to streamline the design of high-performance routers and access points that support enterprise security and management features.

Atheros said the solution is available for sample now, with plans for production to ramp up in the third quarter.