It goes without saying that connectivity is a hugely important part of smartphones. After all, without some sort of network connection, you've basically just got an expensive PDA or PMP. Today, TI is making formal the WiLink 8 family, the newest member of its popular WiLink series of WLAN combo chips, which is built on a 45nm process. WiLink 8 adds support for GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System - GPS + GLONASS) and NFC in addition to WiFi, Bluetooth, and FM receive/transmit like we've seen in WiLink 7 in a number of devices. 

The WiLink 8 family includes 15 different discrete solution options, and TI has provided a feature comparison for those parts. The configuration options basically afford OEMs the ability to choose whether they want GNSS (which they might not if the baseband or SoC provides it), NFC (possibly for low-end devices), and a simplified WLAN-only option.

TI WiLink 8 Series Comparison
Technology Option WL189x solutions WL187x solutions WL185x solutions WL183x solutions WL180x solutions
Dual-band 2x2 MIMO WL1897 WL1877 WL1857 WL1837 WL1807
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n WL1893 WL1873 WL1853 WL1833 WL1803
Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n WL1891 WL1871 WL1851 WL1831 WL1801
Wi-Fi SS 40MHz (HT40) Y Y Y Y Y
GNSS Y Y      
Bluetooth technology Y Y Y Y  
Bluetooth low energy Y Y Y Y  
ANT+ Y Y Y Y  
NFC Y   Y    
FM Rx/Tx Y Y Y Y  

WiLink 8 WiFi support builds on WiLink 7 by also adding both 2.4 and 5 GHz radio support, and most interestingly the option to connect using either dual-band 2x2:2 MIMO with a 20 MHz WiFi channel, or single spatial stream (1x1:1) on a 40 MHz wide channel. This is an interesting and unique feature that we haven't seen before from the other combo chip players, and I'm eager to see if OEMs opt to go for the 2x2:2 solution. Tablets are probably the most logical place for 2x2:2 considering that a larger device means better chances of getting two decently uncorrelated streams. The WiLink 8 series also includes an integrated NFC controller with support for all of the NFC forum use cases and modes, and TI tells us they've already partnered with a number of Secure Element (SE) providers (TI names Infineon and NXP in its release) as well for support. 

Integrated GNSS support is also very interesting, as for a while now Qualcomm has been the only player I've seen offering smartphone-tailored GNSS receiver with support for GPS and Russia's GLONASS constellation in newer SoCs and basebands. TI tells me they also have a different approach to managing use and prioritization of GPS/GLONASS than Qualcomm, whose solution right now only uses GLONASS when GPS SNR is low. We'll see products with WiLink 8 inside in the second half of 2012. 

Source: Texas Instruments

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  • larwe - Friday, April 18, 2014 - link

    It's not that simple though. There's what the silicon does, there's what the baseband processor firmware provided by TI does (that's a binary blob, generally), and then there's what the driver does. Go look at the WiLink 7 drivers for Android and Linux and see just how much of the spec-compliant behavior is implemented on the host side. And a lot of other factors that are actually implemented in the BBP firmware can be pushed out of spec or made to underperform simply by tweaking the wrong control registers in the chip.

    So, even if the device vendor provides a reference driver that only does the bare minimum, many practical fielded embedded applications are going to try and improve on that just in order to differentiate. And THAT is why two vendors using the same OS and same chipset can show radically different performance.
  • jmcb - Monday, February 13, 2012 - link

    So THATS where my FM Radio

    I never realized how much I liked it until I went from a Droid X1 to a RAZR....
  • Devo2007 - Monday, February 13, 2012 - link

    Same. It's a shame that even though the processor supports it, companies still don't always offer support for it (Galaxy Nexus, for example).
  • BadCommand - Tuesday, February 14, 2012 - link

    Would like to see WiDi included as well.
  • hingfingg - Thursday, February 16, 2012 - link

    ** {{w w w }} {{proxy4biz }} {{ com}} *****

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