Qualcomm is on quite the technological roll, with a big show of Gigabit LTE in Sydney, Australia barely over a week ago - and now, the company has unveiled new Wi-Fi chips that will usher in the future of Wi-Fi technology.
Qualcomm's new IPQ8074 is a fresh system-on-chip (SoC) for routers and access points, while the new QCA6290 is for receivers - you know, your Wi-Fi device. This is the first end-to-end commercial Wi-Fi portfolio that supports the new 802.11ax standard, which is very, very exciting.
802.11ax is the next leap in Wi-Fi technology, after 802.11b debuted in 1999 - after that we saw 802.11g, 802.11n, and then what we have now - 802.11ac. 802.11ax is backwards compatible with all of your other Wi-FI devices and routers, but what's the main benefit of 802.11ax?
Well, 802.11ax provides increased real-world speeds, where it's up to 4x faster than 802.11ac - at least on paper. Furthermore, an 802.11ax router is capable of helping previous-gen Wi-Fi devices hit higher speeds as the new standard is capable of managing traffic diversity, and the overwhelming number of Wi-Fi networks that might be interfering with your new 802.11ax network.
Qualcomm's new IPQ8074 SoC
Qualcomm's new IPQ8074 is built on the new 14nm process, and inside it features an 802.11ax radio, a quad-core 64-bit A53 CPU and dual-core network accelerator, MAC and baseband. The new chip features 12x12 Wi-Fi (split into 8x8 on 5GHz, and 4x4 on 2.4GHz) and it of course has MU-MIMO for uplink.
This makes the Qualcomm IPQ8074 capable of breaking speed of 4.8Gbps (over 500MB/sec) and much more coverage than any other Wi-Fi technology. Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. Senior Vice President and General Manager, Rahul Patel, explains: "Capacity - not peak speed - has become the most important measure of a network's ability to handle the ever-increasing demands of today's diverse mix of application and services".
He continued: "We were the first to commercialise capacity utilisation-focused solutions, such as MU-MIMO, Wi-Fi SON and 802.11ad, and are now on the front lines of 11ax innovation that will propel the Wi-Fi industry into the next phase of high-capacity, high-efficiency networks. The transformative features of our 802.11ax solutions are designed to enable our customers to meet these demands, ensuring ample Wi-Fi capacity for richer connected experiences".
802.11ax will "reset the bar" on Wi-Fi networking
This is the type of thing that excites me beyond words, when people throw around lines like this technology will "reset the bar for what matters most in networking". David Henry, Senior Vice President of Home Networking for Netgear explains: "We are excited about the potential impact that 802.11ax will have in the home and small businesses".
"802.11ax is not an incremental upgrade to keep pace with today's demands. The technology will reset the bar for what matters most in networking, and will lay the foundation of network capacity for years to come", he added.
Michael Cubbage, CEO of Rivet Networks had something similar to say: "Performance PC users want to ensure their networking technology delivers the lowest latency, the most throughput, and the lowest packet loss. 802.11ax is poised to deliver game-changing performance on all three of these key metrics. It will greatly enhance the PC user experience for gaming, video streaming, and downloading. We are looking forward to working with Qualcomm Technologies to bring this exciting new technology to market".
I also reached out to Anshel Sag, Staff Technologist and Technical Writer at Moor Insights & Strategy, who said: "802.11AX is the future or Wi-Fi technology and will replace 802.11AC as the standard for Wi-Fi. Qualcomm's leadership in 802.11AC, especislly with their Wave 2 technologies bodes well for their position in 802.11AX. 802.11AX really makes sense because of its increased capacity which ultimately benefits both AX and AC clients by giving AC clients more bandwidth than they wouldve had if all clients were AC. Wi-Fi is slow becoming more about experience and coverage than pure raw speeds as we start to see technologies like 802.11AX and 802.11AD becoming the standard in the near future".
Key features of Qualcomm's new IPQ8074 chip
The IPQ8074 is a highly-integrated SoC designed to deliver maximum capacity, range and performance for the next generation of enterprise access points, carrier gateways and consumer routers.
- Up to 4x capacity to maximise network performance*: Utilising a 12x12 configuration, uplink and downlink MU-MIMO, and supporting eight 80MHz streams, the IPQ8074 quadruples capacity*, delivers up to 4.8 Gbps, and maintains fast connections over larger coverage areas.
- Smart features for seamless connectivity: In addition to Qualcomm® Wi-Fi Self-Organising Network (SON), which simplifies installation, optimises traffic, and reduces dead spots, the IPQ8074 offers unique features to reduce harmful interference in dense areas with many overlapping Wi-Fi access points.
- All-in-one platform: Integrates an 11ax radio, MAC and baseband, plus a quad-core 64-bit A53 CPU and dual-core network accelerator to provide a fully-offloaded 11ax subsystem. 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.
Key features of Qualcomm's new QCA6290 chip
QCA6290 KEY FEATURES
The QCA6290 is a state-of-the-art 802.11ax client device SoC offering unprecedented throughput, battery-life and rich user experiences in homes, enterprises, public venues and other high-traffic areas, and automobiles.
- Up to 4x increase in user throughput in crowded networks*: Supports 2x2 MU-MIMO and realises the full benefits of the 8x8 MU-MIMO by supporting the advanced 8x8 sounding mechanism.
- Ultra-fast Gigabit speed for richer user experiences: Offers up to 1.8 Gbps peak speeds through Dual Band Simultaneous (DBS) combining 2.4 and 5GHz bands, and higher order modulation (1024 QAM).
- Reduces power consumption by 2/3rd*through Qualcomm Technologies' specific optimisations, in addition to the support for the 802.11ax standard power save features.
Qualcomm will have their new 802.11ax chips inside of devices in the second half of 2017.