Marvel 802.11ac: Now with 4×4 Beamforming

Posted by Sam Churchill on

Marvell today announced a 802.11ac 4×4 chipset solution for access points (APs) and wireless video distribution. Compared to its predecessor 802.11n, 802.11ac offers up to a three times increase in Wi-Fi throughput and more than two times the power efficiency.

Earlier this year, Marvell announced the industry’s first 802.11ac 2×2 combination radio chip, the Avastar 88W8897 (pdf), which pairs near field communications (NFC) and Bluetooth 4.0 – with mobile multiple input multiple output (MIMO), beamforming and support for Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Miracast. Many 802.11ac devices currently use only 3 x 3 MIMO. Marvell’s 4×4 MIMO chip delivers up to 1.3 Gbps of throughput.

The 4×4 MIMO Avastar 802.11ac chipset, the 88W8864 sets a new industry benchmarks for speed and range, says Marvell. It is currently sampling and is timed to be available when certification for 802.11ac from the Wi-Fi Alliance happens next year, reports EE Times.

By combining the advanced 4×4 MIMO solution with Marvell’s beamforming technology and 802.11ac support, Marvell says the 88W8864 is poised to expand its presence in the video market, as well as WiFi. Marvell’s beamforming technology, unlike others, is said to work with other W-Fi chips whether or not those chips use beamforming and can increase range by six times.

Beamforming is a technique implemented in digital signal processing (DSP) to improve range and data rate. The phases of the transmit signals are manipulated to improve directivity. Efficient steering of individual streams provides overall gain. Beamforming greatly improves link robustness and wireless performance.

Marvell says its chipset is unique in supporting existing devices, even if those devices do not implement beamforming. Ruckus makes similar claims, using a more proprietary antenna approach that can null out interference utilizing Atheros chips. Quantenna’s 4×4 MIMO 802.11n and 802.11ac chipsets support up to four spatial streams that are capable of unequal modulation to optimize SNR and dynamic digital beamforming. Wavion, an early beamforming WiFi approach for municipal wireless, is now an Alvarion company.

You’d think municipal wireless might have a shot at a comeback – if propagation weren’t so poor at 5GHz, and if the telcos weren’t planning to take over main street with wall-to-wall HetNets.

Broadcom also introduced an 802.11ac chipset for use in smartphones, tablets, ultrabooks and related mobile devices, which should start hitting the market in the first quarter of 2013. Broadcom was the first chip vendor to sample 802.11ac chips and is now shipping devices for use in laptops and routers already on the market.

The cost of the new 802.11ac chipset will probably carry a premium of 50 percent over a component with 802.11n, Michael Hurston, senior vice president and general manager of Broadcom’s Home and Wireless Networking line of business, told PC World.

Qualcomm Atheros, the WiFi subsidiary of Qualcomm has integrated 802.11ac and Bluetooth™ 4.0 connectivity for tablets and notebook computers, with 1, 2 and 3-stream solutions as part of the company’s end-to-end 802.11ac ecosystem. All of Qualcomm Atheros’ 802.11ac solutions are optimized to address the processing demands of 802.11ac with hardware acceleration to offload Wi-Fi processing from the host CPU.

When deploying a high density Wi-Fi network, more channels are preferred to fewer, larger channels, explains Ruckus. A large number of devices occupying one channel reduces efficiency. But more antennas and beamforming can boost efficiency back up.

The 802.11ac standard, 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 Ali Sadri, Director of the Intel Mobile Wireless Group and Chairman of the WiGig Alliance, WiGig has been confirmed as the baseline specification for draft 802.11ad.

In-Stat says nearly 350 million 802.11ac enable devices (routers, client devices, modems etc.) will ship annually by 2015.

Related Dailywireless articles include; Fast Transistion to 802.11ac Predicts ABI, Broadcom 802.11ac for Phones, Netgear 802.11AC WiFi Router, Cisco 802.11ac Router with Cloud Control, Quantenna: 802.11ac Chipset, Buffalo 802.11ac Routers, What is Miracast?

Posted by Sam Churchill on Monday, December 3rd, 2012 at 11:09 pm .

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