Broadcom Introduces 802.11ac Chips

Broadcom has introduced a family of IEEE 802.11ac chips that improves wireless range and speed in the home. Broadcom is branding its family of 802.11ac chips as “5G WiFi“. The current 802.11n Wi-Fi standard has largely been deployed in the 2.4GHz frequency band.

Companies like Redpipe, Quantenna, and Broadcom, are introducing 802.11ac components at CES, but official 802.11ac gear is not expected to begin shipping until the latter half of 2012, after the standard is finalized.

The new 802.11ac standard utilizes the 5 GHz band exclusively and is 3-4 times faster by ganging multiple 20 MHz channels together.

Broadcom’s 5G WiFi solutions all support the following features:

  • 80 MHz channel bandwidth that is 2 times wider than current 802.11n solutions
  • 256-QAM, a higher modulation scheme that increases data transfer efficiency
  • Transmit and receive beamforming
  • Low Density Parity Check (LDPC) Codes
  • Space-Time Block Codes (STBC)

Their BCM4360 chip supports the PCIe interface and implements 3-stream 802.11ac specifications, and reaches speeds up to 1.3 Gbps. Their BCM4352 and BCM43526 implement 2-stream 802.11ac specification to reach up to 867 Mbps.

“Our standard is the standard,” said Michael Hurlston, senior vice president in Broadcom’s Mobile and Wireless business unit, noting that he believed Broadcom to be the first “credible vendor” to both announce and ship 802.11ac chips to date.

Broadcom says that it’s currently sampling 5G Wi-Fi solutions to OEM manufacturers and will be demonstrating 5G Wi-Fi capabilities at CES 2012. NETGEAR will introduce new wireless network devices based on Broadcom’s 802.11ac Wi-Fi chips at CES as will Buffalo.

The 802.11ac standard is downwardly compatible with previous WiFi standards such as 802.11n (above).

By combining its 4×4 MIMO capabilities with 802.11ac, Quantenna is pursuing whole-home video distribution with products that will deliver gigabit-wireless speeds during 2012. Quantenna will be showcasing its 802.11ac chipset at the 2012 International CES in Las Vegas, Nevada, on January 10-13, 2012.

The 802.11ac draft, also known as 802.11 VHT (Very High Throughput), uses the existing 5 GHz Wi-Fi band with wide 80 MHz or 160 MHz channels, improved modulation, and simultaneous multi-user MIMO for throughputs above 1 Gbps.

Next would come 802.11ad, which would add the unlicensed 60 GHz band to Wi-Fi.

According to the In-Stat report released in February 2011, 802.11ac-enabled device shipments will soar to nearly 1 billion by 2015. The 802.11ac standard expands on the broad frequency bands and multiple-antenna capabilities of 802.11n to deliver the speed and performance that consumers need from retail devices, while retaining backward-compatibility with 802.11n.

Posted by Sam Churchill on .

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