Qualcomm’s subsidiary, Qualcomm Atheros, demoed the next generation in 802.11ac access points, using their VIVE 4-stream 802.11ac chipsets enabling multi-user, multiple input multiple output (MU-MIMO).
The first generation of 802.11ac wireless devices were based on single-user MIMO, where devices are served sequentially—with one device sending and receiving information at a time. Multi-user MIMO enables simultaneous transmissions to groups of devices. Qualcomm says it increases the use of network capacity two to three times.
None of the MU-MIMO solutions support 160MHz channels, but through the addition of a fourth stream on some solutions you can get max link rates of 1.73Gbps, notes AnandTech. The Snapdragon 801 integrates 1-stream 802.11ac WiFi and will already support MU-MIMO with nothing more than a software update. The QCA6174 will be the 2-stream MU-MIMO 802.11ac discrete solution for tablets/smartphones.
In order to extract the maximum benefits of MU-MIMO, it must be used on both sides of the connection. MU-MIMO is built into all of Qualcomm Atheros’ latest 11ac client solutions, and is supported on Qualcomm’s high end Snapdragon 805 and 801 mobile processors.
Qualcomm’s chip solutions with MU-MIMO are currently sampling, but the necessary receive functions are built into the Qualcomm Atheros QCA6174 11ac 2.0 client solutions, which are supported on the latest Snapdragon™ 810, 808 and 805 mobile platforms.
Qualcomm Atheros also showcased a Gigabit hybrid network, which combines 11ac Wi-Fi and HomePlug AV2 powerline at Computex this week. The Qualcomm Hy-Fi technology is said to extend the smart gateway platform to enable seamless connectivity to support bandwidth-intensive applications and services throughout the home.
Qualcomm’s Internet Processor (IPQ), designed for smart gateways, supports the next generation of connected devices, applications, and the internet of things for consumers in their homes. Devices featuring IPQ are expected in the second half of 2014.
Qualcomm also showcased a big push into small cells.
Heterogeneous Networks (HetNets) incorporate all kinds of small cells such as femto, enterprise, pico, metro, relays, in addition to the macro cell.
But small cells can suffer from interference from macro users so Qualcomm has a suite of tools, called UltraSON to manage the efficent operation of hundreds of tiny cells. UltraSON can self-configure and is capable of autonomously detecting and resolving conflicts between neighboring cells.
ABI Research predicts the market for small cell backhaul equipment will grow to more than $5 billion in 2018, up from $487 million. LTE small cell solutions will drive most of the microwave and fiber backhaul growth in metropolitan areas, with backhaul for LTE small cells reaching a value of $3.1 billion in 2018, ABI said.
For 2013, the enterprise WLAN market increased 15.0% year over year while the consumer WLAN market jumped 11.0%, according to preliminary results by International Data Corporation (IDC).
The growth in the consumer WLAN space appears to be accelerating due to strong growth in the emerging markets and a transition to the newer 802.11ac standard.