Qualcomm announces its first 802.11ax Wi-Fi products

I suspect that most gerbils probably have the same love-hate relationship with Wi-Fi that I do. I love it when it works, and hate it when it doesn't. Qualcomm has announced a pair of chips that the company claims to be the first 802.11ax solutions in the industry, and the technology within has the potential to increase the love and decrease the hate in the complex relationship between Wi-Fi and users. Qualcomm's IPQ8074 SoC wil bring 802.11ax to network infrastructure and the companion QCA6290 will bring the standard to more exciting client devices.

802.11ax's big claim to fame is a four-fold increase in peak bandwidth to 1.8 Gbps on the client side. The standard does not require a jump onto a new frequency band. Rather, 802.11ax's magic lies in combining the 2.4 GHz and 5 Ghz wireless bands through a technology called "Dual Band Simultaneous Streaming." Perhaps even more important than the promised peak bandwidth increase is the new standard's potential for handling higher-density Wi-Fi networks. Qualcomm says 802.11ax will allow four times the capacity as 802.11ac solutions.

Qualcomm's IPQ8074 radio supports a 12x12 configuration, with eight 5 GHz and four 2.4 GHz antennas through MU-MIMO. The company claims the SoC is capable of delivering aggregate bandwidth up to 4.8 Gbps and can cover larger areas than 802.11ac. The IPQ8074's "Self-Organizing Network technology" sounds like Skynet, Jr., but simply refers to a method of simplifying installation and maintenance of networks with overlapping access points. The SoC also sports an ARM Cortex A53 64-bit quad-core processor and a dual-core "network accelerator." The chip will be built on a 14-nm process node.

The QCA6290 client chip is probably more relevant to more gerbils. The client SoC supports a 2x2 MU-MIMO antenna configuration with peak bandwidth of 1.8 Gbps, delivered via Dual Band Simultaneous and 1024 QAM modulation. Qualcomm says the chip could decrease Wi-Fi power consumption by two-thirds compared to today's solutions.

Qualcomm expects to start sampling chips to device manufacturers in the first half of 2017. Actual product won't come until some time later, so don't throw away all your 802.11ac gear just yet.

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