Qualcomm unveils 802.11ax chips, puts your Wi-Fi on steroids

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Wi-Fi performance will soon be better with Qualcomm's new found pair of chips that is finally compatible with 802.11ax standard.

This is the next generation of Wi-Fi after 802.11ac, which is already capable of gigabit speeds with the right features and conditions.

The 802.11ax Wi-Fi standard is set to replace the current 802.11ac standard in the next few years. Wi-Fi is likely to coexist with - and participate in - an increasingly complex radio environment as advanced LTE and then 5G are deployed. And the new 802.11ax Wi-Fi protocol will conjoin protocols in the 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequency bands. Additionally, the solutions feature proven cellular techniques, such as Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access (OFDMA) and traffic scheduling, which is created to provide greater efficiency, higher user throughput, and a more consistent performance. That said, on paper, 802.11ax can be four times faster than 802.11ac.

802.11ax is the next step in the evolution of Wi-Fi bringing the next level of performance and user experience.

"The problem isn't how fast Wi-Fi can go, but if the Wi-Fi network has enough capacity to handle the growing demand for many different connected devices and services", said Qualcomm.

Anand Oswal, senior vice-president, enterprise networking group, Cisco, said, "Wi-Fi is now an essential element of every corporate, education, service provider and public network".

The chip IPQ8074 is all-in-one highly integrated platform that is designed for the gateways, routers and access points. The first devices to incorporate these new Wi-Fi chips will arrive in the first half of 2017. The system-on-a-chip supports 80 MHz channel width and comes with a Cortex-A53 quad-core processor running at 2Ghz and a dual-core network processor. It uses a 12x12 Wi-Fi configuration (8x8 on the 5GHz band and 4x4 on the 2.4GHz band) and supports MU-MIMO for uplink. The 14nm design provides power and size advantages, while a wide range of external WAN and media interfaces allows customers to build a full portfolio of 802.11AX products.

On the client side, Qualcomm says the QCA6290 SoC can offer up to a 4x increase in throughput speed in a crowded network. This is called SU-MIMO, since the router is still using multiple inputs and outputs to hit those 867Mbps and 1.3Gbps speeds typical to 802.11ac but it can only do so for a single user at a time. IPQ8074 is similar to Quantenna QSR10G-AX, it also has a 12-stream solution and first Qualcomm's 802.11ax solution. "802.11AX is not an incremental upgrade to keep pace with today's demands". But the main focus is on improving total network capacity, or the number of users that can be served at the same time.