First end-to-end portfolio for 802.11ax WiFi

Louise Smyth

Qualcomm Technologies has launched the first set of products to support the latest 802.11ax WiFi standard from end to end.

As Wi-Fi networks become more crowded, dense and diverse, 802.11ax is designed to improve connected experiences, delivering up to 4x greater capacity to make WiFi traffic more efficient, resulting in up to 4x faster user throughput and longer battery life.

With a new standard, having both the network chips and the client chips is important to make sure all the enhancements can work together effectively.

The new portfolio includes the IPQ8074 system-on-chip (SoC) for network infrastructure and QCA6290 solution for client devices which are both sampling in the first half of 2017.

The chips support 12-streams (eight 5GHz and four 2.4GHz), 8x8 MU-MIMO, 80 MHz channels and other features to maximise capacity and coverage.

They also add cellular techniques such as Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access (OFDMA) and traffic scheduling to provide greater efficiency, higher user throughput, and a more consistent performance.

This managed approach of resource allocation, along with the optimisation of wake-up time, can reduce Wi-Fi power consumption by 60% to extend device battery life without adversely impacting performance.

“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," said Rahul Patel, senior vice president & general manager, connectivity at Qualcomm Technologies.

"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."

The 14nm IPQ8074 integrates an 11ax radio, MAC and baseband with a quad-core 64-bit ARM A53 CPU and dual-core network accelerator to deliver up to 4.8 Gbit/s across larger coverage areas. It includes a Self-Organising Network (SON) which simplifies installation, optimises traffic and reduces dead spots and also has features to reduce harmful interference in dense areas with many overlapping Wi-Fi access points.

The QCA6290 uses 2x2 MU-MIMO to provide data rates up to 1.8 Gbit/s in client devices by combining 2.4 and 5 GHz bands with higher order modulation 1024 QAM.

This is intended to support applications such as 4K Ultra HD video streaming and video-conferences, content sharing, social media and file transfers in the enterprise, but the dual band capability also boosts the experience in vehicles, including Gigabit in-car Wi-Fi hotspot, content sharing between brought-in devices and the car's infotainment system, and support for multiple video streams along with screen mirroring.

Qualxomm is already working with Cisco, NetGear and NEC on the devices for the roll out of 802.11ax products.