Broadcom has announced two 802.11g wireless LAN chips it claims will extend their effective range by half.

The two new additions, the BCM4318E single-chip 802.11g client and the BCM5352E router system-on-a-chip, use a Broadcom technology called BroadReach, which keeps performance from falling off as clients get further away from the access point, Broadcom claims. The technology - essentially a "hearing aid" for the WLAN, according to Broadcom spokesman Jeff Abromowitz - also improves performance at closer distances.

WLAN chipmakers such as Broadcom and Atheros have a history of adding proprietary technology to their products in order to encourage consumers to stick with one brand. BroadReach, for example, competes with Atheros' eXtended Range (XR) system. Unlike XR, BroadReach doesn't need to be present on both ends of a wireless connection to operate, although Broadcom says such a set-up would give the best performance.

Broadcom and Atheros also use proprietary technology to boost throughput; Broadcom's is called 125 High Speed Mode. When used with 125 High Speed Mode, BroadReach can add 40 percent greater throughput than a typical 802.11g network, Broadcom says.

BroadReach is simply a digital signal processing technique used to improve receive sensitivity, and thus doesn't need a specialised antenna, Broadcom said. Some new methods for extending range and performance, such as the use of MIMO technology, use a non-standard antenna.

The BCM4318E single-chip client product is aimed at devices with strict power requirements, such as handheld computers and mobile phones, Broadcom said. It is now in production, with reference designs available for mini PCI and PC card versions.

The BCM5352E router system-on-a-chip works with Broadcom's BCM2050 radio, and includes wireless routing, Fast Ethernet switching and a MIPS instruction set. It is now sampling and will be in volume production by early next year.