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Integrated Airport

post #1 of 30
Thread Starter 
Why can't Apple integrate Airport at the motherboard/chipset level and just standardize on it. Is there something stopping them from doing this? Does Lucent only agree to sell them cards?

Apple standardized pro models with gigabit ethernet. I think standardization on airport would be a hell of a lot more useful, especially today.

Wouldn't just integrated an airport "chip" on the motherboard of every mac be a whole lot cheaper and better?
post #2 of 30
[quote]Originally posted by applenut:
<strong>Why can't Apple integrate Airport at the motherboard/chipset level and just standardize on it. Is there something stopping them from doing this? Does Lucent only agree to sell them cards?

Apple standardized pro models with gigabit ethernet. I think standardization on airport would be a hell of a lot more useful, especially today.

Wouldn't just integrated an airport "chip" on the motherboard of every mac be a whole lot cheaper and better?</strong><hr></blockquote>

With 802.11a and 802.11g right around the corner I'm not sure Apple would want to put 802.11b on the mobo and since 11a and g are still virgin stuff I'm not sure about putting that on the mobo either.... In this case I think Apple is doing the right thing... but that being said I'm not sure why they aren't giving away the cards by default... they can't really be costing em that much any more.

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post #3 of 30
[quote]Originally posted by DaveGee:
<strong>

With 802.11a and 802.11g right around the corner I'm not sure Apple would want to put 802.11b on the mobo and since 11a and g are still virgin stuff I'm not sure about putting that on the mobo either.... In this case I think Apple is doing the right thing... but that being said I'm not sure why they aren't giving away the cards by default... they can't really be costing em that much any more.

Dave</strong><hr></blockquote>

Wouldn't that maybe be rectifiable by a firmware update? Don't know the technical aspects, so I could be wrong. Anyway, I still think it's a great idea, applenut.
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post #4 of 30
[quote]Originally posted by DaveGee:
<strong>

but that being said I'm not sure why they aren't giving away the cards by default... they can't really be costing em that much any more.

Dave</strong><hr></blockquote>

Actually I saw this week where one of the mac mail order places(I think macmall) is offering a free airport card with the purchase of a TI PB. There is a $30 installation fee though.
What a crock, why don't they just sell the damn card for $30 bucks.
post #5 of 30
As has already been mentioned, the card allows them to have some play for future specs. If they integrate it, you're stuck with what you got.
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post #6 of 30
Yes, but people who have FireWire won't be able to use Fiber FireWire (or GigaWire if Apple really is going to call it that).

To upgrade my gigabit ethernet to 10Gb Ethernet (entering trials in Sydney Australia now ) I will need a PCI slot.

For some things which a user is likely to upgrade justifies not spending money to save money (in the long run) buy integrating a product.

Also, the main advantage of integrating AirPort (or at least making cards standard like the PowerBook G4) would encourage it to become more standards. I mean, LAN parties without a LAN is a very cool idea. I've got a computer, you've got a computer, keep them within 50 metres of each other and exchange files and play games. Like how the iMac popularised USB.

802.11b and 802.11g can be used on a single PHY or on the IC too. 802.11a is a way off yet, and users of it, well, that's what PCI slots are for.

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post #7 of 30
In theory, this would sound like a terrific step for Apple, and I think on certain product lines, like the new iMac, it could very well work out well. But, only if the user had the OPTION. Why? Because there are people who truly do not want the option. Truth be told, 802.11b is not exactly the most secure protocol, and there are many who would want the choice. In the past, as everyone knows, Apple has always made decisions for the user, like built in gigabit, etc. Those decisions have been fine, IMO, because they are usually things that do not get freuent upgrades. But wireless is a totally different ballgame. When an upgrade comes out, then the user will be stuck with a slower interface. Also, wireless, while rapidly becoming more available, is a novelty to many, and a dream to most. I personally have a home network, but that is because of the good graces of my dad. Unfortunately I do not even own a laptop to use it. Anyways, while I think this is good in theory, it falls short. That is why I am thrilled the G4Cube still used a standard pc card airport... When the new model comes out, I hope to upgrade. Woohoo!
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post #8 of 30
[quote]Originally posted by Barto:
<strong>
802.11a is a way off yet, and users of it, well, that's what PCI slots are for.

Barto</strong><hr></blockquote>


Doesn't seem so "way off" to me...
<a href="http://computers.cnet.com/hardware/0-7052-404-7512661.html" target="_blank">http://computers.cnet.com/hardware/0-7052-404-7512661.html</a>
post #9 of 30
I don't think that airport cards use a standard PC-card interface or protocol. I think they're actually on IDE ??? I'd much rather see airport move onto a CardBay compliant slot. Cardbay is fully compatible with cardbus but is also fully compliant with the PCI spec. Why open the case to insert the airport when you can just plug it in from the side? Keep the integrated antenna, just make the airport slot more versatile. If I don't want to use airport, I could then use my PCI compliant cardbay slot to create an expansion chassis for my notebook, or maybe for a fast external raid array for my pro machine. Or for the pro machine fiends out there who need a gazzillion audio/video (for either desktop or laptop) you could have an expansion chassis for that. Hell you could even create one for your iMac.

What the airport slot really is, is a way for apple to control sales of networking products on the mac platform. At least for the consumer machines which don't have alternative expansion. However, because the signalling is compliant they can't really shut out other makers. I've already seen wireless lan adapters for USB, so even on the consumer machines there will be alternatives to Apple. I don't think this is greed though. The cards aren't expensive, and the solution is very clean precisely because there aren't any extranious bits hanging off the machine, and by most accounts it works flawlessly. All round it's a good call. However, a PC card interface would have been just that much more expandable.
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post #10 of 30
The fact that there is an an anrenna in EVERY SINGLE MAC SOLD for the past three years makes it seem to me that Airport is standard. Just buy a $99 card and you're ready to dgo.
post #11 of 30
Thread Starter 
[quote]Originally posted by Matsu:
<strong>As has already been mentioned, the card allows them to have some play for future specs. If they integrate it, you're stuck with what you got.</strong><hr></blockquote>

why? the cards have an upgradable firmware. if they just put the chips that are in the card on the motherboard how would anything change?

[quote]The fact that there is an an anrenna in EVERY SINGLE MAC SOLD for the past three years makes it seem to me that Airport is standard. Just buy a $99 card and you're ready to dgo. <hr></blockquote>

having a piece of wire implanted in your mac's plastic hardly makes airport standard when you have to buy airport to get airport.


Apple charges us a premium to own a mac. We should at leats get incentives like standard wireless networking for that premium.
post #12 of 30
Without a base station a free Airport card will get you what? It only benefits those that have more than one Mac so one can act as the base. 99% of people don't so what sense would it make to include the card? You'd still have to pop for a $299 base station.
post #13 of 30
Thread Starter 
[quote]Originally posted by stupidbiatch:
<strong>Without a base station a free Airport card will get you what? It only benefits those that have more than one Mac so one can act as the base. 99% of people don't so what sense would it make to include the card? You'd still have to pop for a $299 base station.</strong><hr></blockquote>

99% of the people don't have gigabit ethernet infrastructures yet apple includes it and to use it would more than 2 computers you have to spend several hundred on a hub with just a couple of ports
post #14 of 30
[quote]why? the cards have an upgradable firmware. if they just put the chips that are in the card on the motherboard how would anything change?<hr></blockquote>

Going from 64-bit WEP to 128-bit WEP is a firmware upgrade (it's just code.) It also seems they ran into trouble with older basestations, since those could not be upgraded. Going from 802.11b to a next generation technology is *not* going to be a firmware upgrade. Apple probably won't force everybody to go out and buy new AirPort 3 cards though. Whatever comes will probably support 802.11b cards as well.
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post #15 of 30
Well, when airport first came out, the answer was, IT AIN'T CHEAP! Not sure how much the components really cost these days.
post #16 of 30
It must be cheaper for them (and more profitable) to do it this way. It may not be as easy as flashing firmware. Sometimes sure, but other times you may need something more: ie. to bump the encryption you may just need a quick flash, but faster transfers probably require faster chips, and no amount of flashing will give you that. There might also have been the worry of security/stability of this new technology. And it is still quite new if you consider how widespread it isn't! Any problems would have resulted in hundreds of thousands of buggy mobos. This way, they could just pull out the cards.

Not that I at all think the following is possible, but since this is future hardware, let me just throw in some intriguing possibilities for an enterprising 3rd party...

airport supports 50 users at 11mbps. That's a grand total of 550mbps of peak bandwidth. Not a lot of small office/lab/home set-ups are going to have 50 comps. But I bet a lot will have 5 or less. Now do you remember certain 2 line modems that paired two analogue lines to deliver 112Kbps modem performance? What's to stop someone (or even Apple) from developing an airport card that performs the same stunt? Say bundling anywhere from 2-10 signals? for 20-100ish Mbps performance. Instead of hooking 50 11Mbps connection over 50 computers, you might be able to hook-up 5 computers that hog about 10 connections apiece for a very fast wireless network (albeit a small one). If the company is very good at writing software and drivers, and thoughfull to boot, they could design the cards to automatically ask for more bandwidth or give up bandwidth as computers move in an out of the network. So if you have 10 comps on one base station, each gets about 50mbps, if you have 25, each gets about 20mbps, and if you have only 5 or 6 each gets about 80-100. Just a thought. Won't happen, but it'd be interesting.
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post #17 of 30
i think the 11mbs spec is the MAX output, meaning if you have 10 comps connected, the bandwith drops to 1mbs per comp (although bandwith is only given out when needed, so if 5/10 are writing email and 4/10 are on AIM and 1/10 is sending a movie, the person sending the movie will probably get the best speeds.... Is that right or am I sleep typing again?
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post #18 of 30
Matsu, uh, 550 Mbps? That 11 MBps is shared, my friend.

Anyway, there already exist "double barrel shotgun" style wireless cards. I know Proxim has such 802.11a cards and access points.

<a href="http://www.proxim.com/products/all/harmony/" target="_blank">http://www.proxim.com/products/all/harmony/</a>
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post #19 of 30
Senario 1

Apple has 802.11a Airport cards/base stations ready and waiting.

Problem: a and b don't like each other, their Airport cards might have to be a special mix of the two to work together.

Solution: Offer this card free in Powermac's, and maybe the top iMac, the Powerbook line. All else are paid cards.

Senario 2

Apple does NOT have 802.11a ready OR does not choose to adopt it (incompadible with airport1/2).

Problem: We have no new airport

Solution: Integrate the airport card onto the mobo like FW, GE



(hell, integrate 802.11a onto UMA2 for the G5!)
post #20 of 30
[quote]Originally posted by Barto:
<strong>Yes, but people who have FireWire won't be able to use Fiber FireWire (or GigaWire if Apple really is going to call it that).</strong><hr></blockquote>

Guess the reasoning at Apple is that more people could actually make good use out of a faster wireless standard than out of 3.2Gb/s FireWire.

A lot of people consider 802.11b's speed a nuisance in everyday use (hardly surprising, since most of them know 100mb/s LANs and can thus compare both).

FireWire, on the other hand, isn't really a limiting factor for nearly anything most people would want to do with it today.


[quote]<strong>
To upgrade my gigabit ethernet to 10Gb Ethernet (entering trials in Sydney Australia now ) I will need a PCI slot.
</strong><hr></blockquote>

Yeah, and a new PCI slot too - even the 64bit variety Apple uses tops out way below 10Gb/s.


[quote]<strong>
802.11b and 802.11g can be used on a single PHY or on the IC too. 802.11a is a way off yet, and users of it, well, that's what PCI slots are for.
</strong><hr></blockquote>

The 5GHz variant would probably not work with the antennas in current Macs anyway.

Bye,
RazzFazz
post #21 of 30
[quote]Originally posted by Matsu:
<strong>I don't think that airport cards use a standard PC-card interface or protocol. I think they're actually on IDE ???
</strong><hr></blockquote>

At least that's what the tech docs on developer.apple.com say.

[quote]<strong> I'd much rather see airport move onto a CardBay compliant slot. Cardbay is fully compatible with cardbus but is also fully compliant with the PCI spec. Why open the case to insert the airport when you can just plug it in from the side?</strong><hr></blockquote>

Why would Apple want to include CardBus controllers and slots on all of their machines? Hardly anybody is going to use these on a desktop (given the price difference to PCI cards), and thos who really need it can just get a CardBus interface PCI-card.


[quote]<strong>
Keep the integrated antenna, just make the airport slot more versatile.
</strong><hr></blockquote>

So how do you suppose to actually connect the antenna to the card in that case?
Not sure if CardBus actually has any spare pins left...


[quote]<strong>
If I don't want to use airport, I could then use my PCI compliant cardbay slot to create an expansion chassis for my notebook, or maybe for a fast external raid array for my pro machine.
Or for the pro machine fiends out there who need a gazzillion audio/video (for either desktop or laptop) you could have an expansion chassis for that. Hell you could even create one for your iMac.
</strong><hr></blockquote>

Don't you think those people already have that capability with their machines today?
I mean, someone who actually considers buying a Magma chassis most likely doesn't only have an iMac or iBook.


[quote]<strong>
However, a PC card interface would have been just that much more expandable.</strong><hr></blockquote>

Yes, but expansion is what the pro machines are for.

Bye,
RazzFazz
post #22 of 30
[quote]Originally posted by applenut:
<strong>
why? the cards have an upgradable firmware. if they just put the chips that are in the card on the motherboard how would anything change?
</strong><hr></blockquote>

Some upgrades involve a bit more than a mere firmware update.
(You wouldn't really think you could give GBit ethernet to an old mac by flashing the firmware either, would you?)


[quote]<strong>
Apple charges us a premium to own a mac. We should at leats get incentives like standard wireless networking for that premium.</strong><hr></blockquote>

So you're suggesting they should just cut their margins to more PC-like levels while maintaining the prices, and use the saved money to put additional stuff into the Macs?
Sure, I'd love that too, but I don't think that's gonna happen any time soon.

Bye,
RazzFazz
post #23 of 30
Thread Starter 
[quote]Some upgrades involve a bit more than a mere firmware update.
(You wouldn't really think you could give GBit ethernet to an old mac by flashing the firmware either, would you?)<hr></blockquote>

you're misunderstaning me. I know you would not be able to flash it to the new speed. you can't flash an airport card to the new speed either and most likely a new high speed card wouldn't even work in the current slot on machines so your not limiting your future options at all. they are the same.

[quote]So you're suggesting they should just cut their margins to more PC-like levels while maintaining the prices, and use the saved money to put additional stuff into the Macs?
Sure, I'd love that too, but I don't think that's gonna happen any time soon.<hr></blockquote>

it's not exactly a foreign idea.
gigabit ethernet
firewire
superdrive (almost standard now)
built in video in.out on old powermacs
etc,
post #24 of 30
I'm with Applenut....integrated Airport would probably cost Apple very little to implement, and it would go a long ways towards differentiating Macs from PCs, and towards adding "value" to Macs. I think it would be awesome to have Airport standard on all Macs.

Add a software base station to OS X, and anyone with more than one Mac has wireless network...that's an awesome thing for Apple to be known for!
post #25 of 30
[quote]Originally posted by applenut:
<strong>
you're misunderstaning me. I know you would not be able to flash it to the new speed. you can't flash an airport card to the new speed either and most likely a new high speed card wouldn't even work in the current slot on machines so your not limiting your future options at all. they are the same.
</strong><hr></blockquote>

What makes you think the interface to the AirPort card has been crippled in a way as to not allow for higher data rates?
Especially if they indeed (as their tech docs state) use the ATA bus to connect it to the system. It's not like we're going to see BGit Airport any time soon, and 50MBit are unlikely to be too much for any internal interface these days.


[quote]<strong>
it's not exactly a foreign idea.
gigabit ethernet
firewire
</strong><hr></blockquote>

... both of which are integrated into UniNorth anyway, so the impact on price is probably rather small.


[quote]<strong>
superdrive (almost standard now)
</strong><hr></blockquote>

Sure, but it's only standard on the more expensive models, and I think during the course of their introduction, Apple did charge for them in a way, because they only dropped prices by a smaller extent and more slowly than usual.


[quote]<strong>
built in video in.out on old powermacs
</strong><hr></blockquote>

You didn't have to pay for that?

Bye,
RazzFazz
post #26 of 30
[quote]Originally posted by Junkyard Dawg:
<strong>I'm with Applenut....integrated Airport would probably cost Apple very little to implement, and it would go a long ways towards differentiating Macs from PCs, and towards adding "value" to Macs. I think it would be awesome to have Airport standard on all Macs.
</strong><hr></blockquote>

Integrating Airport doesn't give you as much of an advantage as integrating ethernet, 'cos AFAIK there's no way of putting 802.11b on-chip (i.e. into UniNorth) at this time.
Thus, since a) benefits would be considerably less than in the case of ethernet or firewire (both price-wise and in regards to saving PCI bandwidth), b) WLAN is generally much more expensive than either of those, and c) 802.11b, as opposed to the other two aforementioned technologies actually is a bottleneck for many users right now, I think leaving the option to the user is a good thing at this point.


[quote]<strong>Add a software base station to OS X, and anyone with more than one Mac has wireless network...that's an awesome thing for Apple to be known for!</strong><hr></blockquote>

But everyone who has more than two Macs can just go and buy Airport cards as needed. Why not let them decide for themselves? I mean, in other threads, people are bitching and complaining b/c they can't decide whether they get the Apple Pro Mouse with their system, and now all of a sudden making AirPort non-optional is a good thing?

Bye,
RazzFazz
post #27 of 30
I wouldn't see a problem with integrating, or rather, factory installing Airport cards into every iBook and Powerbook, as they do on the high end Powerbook G4. If you are a college student or live in a metropolitan area, there is probably an 802.11b wireless LAN you can sign up for. I use Cafe Connection <a href="http://www.cafeconnection.net/" target="_blank">http://www.cafeconnection.net/</a> as my sole ISP and for that I get wireless DSL at a number of cafes for only $11 per month. CompUSA installed my Airport Card free of charge when I bought my iBook and an Airport Card from them. Airport is a great selling point for a portable, and Apple would do well to pre-install them on all their portables, or at least on the higher spec models.
post #28 of 30
PowerMacs are for Pro users. They will want to move big files around. Airport, as someone pointed out, is not the solution at current speeds. Pro users don't want to pay for stuff they aren't using. There have been many discussions through the years about not being able to get a stripped down high-end Mac. No extra hardware and software. Just a bare high-end Mac that Pro could trick out with lots of Ram and disk.

For portables, I do agree that Airport is the correct solution. It makes more sense for it to be factory installed.

I'm sure Apple is crunching the numbers and as soon as it makes sense (most users buying it and cheap enough), it will be factory installed or integrated.
post #29 of 30
By providing airport on a seperate card apple is leaving the option open for users to upgrade to other wireless protocols in the 2.4Ghz band. 802.11g is an example of a new standard in this frequency. Since .11b and .11g use the same frequency users will be able to just switch cards to upgrade. (802.11a uses the 5Ghz range and requires a different antenna length than .11a and .11g)
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post #30 of 30
[quote]Originally posted by Mike D:
<strong>By providing airport on a seperate card apple is leaving the option open for users to upgrade to other wireless protocols in the 2.4Ghz band. 802.11g is an example of a new standard in this frequency. Since .11b and .11g use the same frequency users will be able to just switch cards to upgrade. (802.11a uses the 5Ghz range and requires a different antenna length than .11a and .11g)</strong><hr></blockquote>

IIRC, 11g is backwards compatible with 11b. So, an 11g basestation (theoretically) would be able to handle 11b clients.
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