Atheros Communications is a developer of semiconductors for wireless communications. Founded in 1998 by experts in signal processing from Stanford University, the University of California, Berkeley and the private industry, it became a public company in 2004. The current President and CEO of the company is Craig H. Barratt.
Atheros chipsets for the IEEE 802.11 standard of wireless networking are used by over 30 different wireless device manufacturers, including Netgear, D-Link and Linksys.
In late 2007, Atheros acquired u-Nav, a GPS chipmaker, indicating that the company was interested in getting into the GPS market.
Free software support
In the free software community
, Atheros has been known for not releasing appropriate documentation that would allow free software
developers to write open-source drivers to support their wireless devices without reverse-engineering, thus OSS
support for Atheros hardware was rather limited. There are still some completely free open-source drivers written via reverse-engineering techniques. For example, Reyk Floeter of the OpenBSD
project has reversed-engineered the HAL
-module of the ath driver found on FreeBSD, and provided a completely free driver to Atheros devices. Also Nick Kossifidis of the MadWiFi
project based on Floeter's work started madwifi-old-openhal branch on feb. 2006 in order to create a free driver for Linux. Kossifidis did some further reverse engineering (added support for most ar5k chips) and various code improvements and his code made it to ath5k , a driver for Atheros chips now included on the Linux kernel.
Atheros has often been featured in OpenBSD's theme songs that relate to the ongoing efforts of freeing non-free devices.
Recently, Atheros decided to change policy and released an open source Linux driver for their 802.11n devices.. Atheros also released some source from their binary HAL under ISC license to help community add support for their abg chips, it can be downloaded from http://www.kernel.org/pub/linux/kernel/people/mcgrof/legacy-hal.tar.bz2.