weird chips in wireless devices

Hi all, I've been on a hardware hacking binge and noticed a new kind of IC in a lot of wireless devices, one that I'd never seen before:

  • instead of a plain black surface with white markings, this kind is metallic or plastic and often colorful
  • instead of having visible surface-mount leads, this kind has no visible leads and sometimes appears to be glued down

An example, the shiny metal thingy in the lower left corner of this board from a Netgear router:

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My best guess is this is some kind of wireless RF transceiver, because it's connected to the antenna. I've heard that 802.11 wireless chips tend to come in pairs, and I already know which chip on this board contains a wireless NIC.

Is my guess correct, that this a wireless RF transceiver? Why do they use this unusual packaging? My only guess is heat dissipation, since the package has an unusually large surface area. What exactly does a wireless RF transceiver do that a wireless "baseband processor" doesn't do... anyone have a link to an article that explains the difference?

Curiously, Dan Lenski

Reply to
Dan Lenski
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Aha! Thanks. What is that package called?


Reply to
Dan Lenski

It's just a piece of metal that's been bent to shape and soldered down on all sides to the board. If you took a heat gun to it to pull it off, underneath you'd find one or more "regular old ICs."

I suppose I'd just call the package "an RF shield."

Reply to
Joel Kolstad

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