Articles: Networking

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The TL-WR542G being a low-end product, its electronic stuffing cannot be very advanced. The router is based on the AR2317 chip developed by Atheros specifically for inexpensive network equipment. This small chip incorporates a WLAN module and a network processor.

According to Atheros, the AR2317 brings about a 40% cost reduction in comparison with same-functionality network devices based on multiple chips. By the way, the router’s Extended Range feature is in fact a proprietary technology from Atheros. Here are the brief specs of the AR2317 taken from the Atheros website:

  • Highly integrated, lowest cost 802.11b/g WLAN system-on-chip solution
  • Integrated 32-bit MIPS R4Kc processor
  • WLAN MAC and baseband processing engine
  • WLAN radio operates from 2.300 - 2.500 GHz
  • 10/100 Ethernet MAC
  • High speed UART
  • SDRAM and serial FLASH memory interface
  • Integrated power and low noise amplifiers (PA and LNA)
  • Integrated RF switch
  • Eliminates all IF filters and most RF filters; no external voltage-controlled oscillators (VCOs) or surface acoustic wave (SAW) filters needed
  • Integrated analog-to-digital and digital-to-analog converters
  • Lower passive component count
  • Requires only one external 3.3V power supply
  • Compliant with IEEE 802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11d, 802.11e and 802.11i
  • Atheros XR (eXtended Range) technology gives Wi-Fi products twice the range of existing designs
  • Supports Atheros JumpStart for Wireless secure configuration tool

The AR2317 is connected to system memory and to flash memory that contains the router’s firmware. The system memory is an S6416AHTA chip from Elpida:

It is an 8MB SDRAM chip clocked at 133MHz and with a cycle latency of 3. The 25P16VFIG flash memory chip from Winbond has a capacity of 1MB.

Besides memory, the router’s processor is connected to a Fast Ethernet switch. It is an 88E6060-RCJ1 chip from Marvell. Coming from the Link Street family, this controller is intended for low-end products, too.

It offers five physical-level ports with automatic crossover detection and six MAC-level ports. The sixth port of the 88E6060 is connected to the AR2317 via a MII.

Besides those electronic chips I want to show you to one more thing. As mentioned in the router specification, it has two antennas. The second, internal, IF antenna is located on the left edge of the PCB. Here’s what it looks like:

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