Qualcomm has bought Wi-Fi chip maker Airgo while pushing the 802.11n reality threshold by claiming "availability" of version 2.0 of the yet-to-be-published IEEE standard.

Qualcomm needs Wi-Fi technology in order to build converged silicion for converged dual-mode handsets, said its European general manager Enrico Salvatori. "We want to integrate into our chipsets new features including WLAN and Bluetooth," he said. "This is the trend of consumer electronics."

Qualcomm is buying Airgo, the initial leader in the race to use MIMO technology to make Wi-Fi go faster, and has also picked up the Bluetooth portfolio of RF Micro Devices.

Qualcomm will be delivering fast Wi-Fi using the still-under-development 802.11n standard, said Salvatori, but industry analysts said it was being a bit too fast, in announcing "availability" of silicon based on Draft 2.0 of the 802.11n standard. For one thing, Qualcomm itself is using "available" in a special silicon vendor's sense: "We are targeting the availability of sample silicon in the second half of 2007," admitted Salvatori.

In fact, Qualcomm is pre-announcing Draft 2.0 to get over the uncomfortable fact that Airgo will not have any Draft 1.0 silicon in the first half of next year, when a feeding frenzy is predicted for Draft 1.0 products. "At this stage we are going directly to 2.0, with no 1.0 commercial products," said Salvatori.

"This announcement from a company that denounced Draft 1.0 chip releases is especially rich," says Glenn Fleishman of Wi-Fi Net News"…they will claim compliance with a draft of a draft and state that with a straight face."