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Capacity is King with Qualcomm’s 802.11ax chipsets

Qualcomm is getting ready to bring two 802.11ax SoCs to market. The IPQ8074 SoC is designed for access points and routers, with a peak theoretical throughput of 4.8Gbps across eight 5GHz streams and four 2.4GHz streams. They’ve also got a client side SoC capable of 1.775Gbps across two streams. While not the first to announced a router SoC for 801.11ax, they’re the first I’ve seen presenting a client side option.

Looking at the offering, what really interests me with 802.11ax is the trend toward preferring better capacity vs simply offering better speeds. This is evident in the discussions over the forthcoming 5G specification as well. It’s not nearly as sexy, but anyone who’s tried to use their phone or a laptop at an overwhelmed conference or stadium can appreciate better capacity. This is partly done with full support for Multiple User Multiple Input Multiple Output, which is currently only an optional specification for 802.11ac, and then only for downloads. By having it standardized across the new specification, these new access points will be able to serve multiple devices at the same time, rather than rapidly switching between devices.

There are also a lot of optimizations within specific frequency bands to improve capacity, but I feel like standardization of MU-MIMO is the biggest innovation of the specification. I’m glad to see Qualcomm putting something out into the world to get adoption of the standard started. With the explosion of connections we’re likely to see as IoT expands, having a standard designed around handling capacity is a must.

About the author

Rich Stroffolino

Rich has been a tech enthusiast since he first used the speech simulator on a Magnavox Odyssey². Current areas of interest include ZFS, the false hopes of memristors, and the oral history of Transmeta.

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