WiFi processor selection

Does anyone recommend some WiFi processor products where the datasheets are available? Available samples are a plus, free is even better. Are there some reference designs on the net that I should study? Which vendors are cooperative? I'm thinking cooperative in the sense of the PIC microprocessor -- datasheets easily available, samples purchased on the web.


I have the silly idea I want to dabble a bit in operating system software for WiFi devices, such as routers, bridges, and customer premise equipment (CPE). I worked as a network manager for a small company. We used commercial off the shelf (COTS) equipment to build both the CPE and the access points. We did brainstorming sessions on both hardware and software design. Later, this company bought a custom hardware design that is now old. Although the company is now defunct, this may not be as crazy as it sounds.

I want to do a prototype for the hardware as a part of the same project. A couple of years ago, I made an introductory design for a tiny hardware project and had a short run of boards made. I blathered on in SED about it for a while. This project is much more exacting, but again, this may not be as crazy as it sounds.

I envision this would run the same course as my earlier hardware project: I would spend lots and lots of time and money, post CADfiles and pictures to the internet, nobody else would pay a dollar or care, and I would be immensely satisfied.

I'm aware of a tradeoff between using COTS or doing paperwork for the FCC.

I really have tried not to put any time into this for the past 3 or 4 years, but the bug bit really bad when it got too cold to go outside. (Even though it is 30 to 50 deg warmer than usual, from my Austin, TX perspective it is really cold in north central Minnesota).

I have read a bit on the wireless router linux hacking project as noticed by Google. I have taken apart a couple of USB-WiFi dongles, and looked inside a WiFi router, and am reading datasheets and otherwise doing some homework. Since this is my own project, I am free to choose a not popular language and this limits the CPU core that I would want a little bit. MIPS, ARM, SPARC, Pentium seem ok.

The dongle that I opened had a ZD1211 chip on it. This alleges to be a combination CPU and radio. ZyDas has disappeared and become Atheros, Linux sources and web sites with ZD1211 info have disappeared. I don't know if I can expect a lot of openness from vendors. My DLink DI-524 router has a AR2313A chip in it. I don't find a datasheet for any products on the Atheros web site.

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