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Marvell claims 802.11ac SoC boosts Wi-Fi throughput

Posted: 05 Dec 2012 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:WLAN? 802.11ac? Wi-Fi? 4x4 SoC? beamforming?

Marvell Technology Group Ltd. has recently introduced a wireless local area network (WLAN) SoC which the company claims is the industry's first 802.11ac 4x4 SoC to improve the throughput of enterprise retail access points and the robustness of wireless video distribution.

Marvell compared its Avastar 88W8864 to its predecessor, stating that it offers up to a three times increase in Wi-Fi throughput. The new SoC also offers twice the power efficiency when processing high speed loads.

"This is another breakthrough capability that Marvell is driving in the industry," said Weili Dai, a Marvell co-founder and vice president and general manager of the company's communications and consumer business. "It's becoming very important and very critical. Consumers want reliable, robust and high-per capability through the Wi-Fi pipe."

According to Dai and Bart Giordano, Marvell's director of wireless marketing, the Avastar 88W8864 is timed to be generally available once the 802.11ac is certified by the Wi-Fi Alliance. The executives said the industry is hoping to avoid a replay of the 802.11n rollout, when many devices were shipped based on a draft version of the spec, leading to devices that did not operate in concert.

"I think 802.11n is widely regarded as a failure because many of the devices didn't work together," Giordano said.

Marvell claims a competitive technological advantage in beamforming technology, a critical part of the 802.11ac spec that is said to greatly improve connectivity. According to Giordano, while most W-Fi chips that use beamforming technology require that the chips it is connecting with also use beamforming, Marvell's beamforming technology works with other W-Fi chips whether or not those chips use beamforming. (See Addressing challenges in deploying 802.11ac.)

"There is such an advantage in Marvell's beamforming that our customers have gone off and branded it," Giordano said, mentioning as an example Cisco Systems Inc.

The 4x4 blueprint
Earlier this year, Marvell announced the industry's first 802.11ac 2x2 combination radio chip, the Avastar 88W8897. That chip pairs near field communications (NFC) and Bluetooth 4.0 with mobile multiple input multiple output (MIMO), beamforming and support for Wi-Fi certified Miracast, a peer-to-peer wireless screencast standard created by the Wi-Fi Alliance. (See 60GHz ICs to deliver 3Gb/s of data using less than 2W.)

The 88W8864 is designed to ensure seamless wireless throughput of high-bandwidth data applications and enable reliable, carrier-grade HD multi-stream video distribution over Wi-Fi networks, Marvell said. The chip is said to deliver high-quality, low latency, artifact-free video content across service provider gateways and set-top boxes, the company said.

The 88W8864 will be integrated into a broad range of Marvell's media platforms, including Marvell's video and network SoC platforms, Marvell said. The company claims to be a leading provider of the 4x4 architecture since the introduction of the Marvell Avastar 88W8764 802.11n 4x4 SoC in 2010.

"Marvell's innovation in the wireless space continues to improve the performance and connectivity of both enterprise and consumer applications, such as access points, set-top boxes and carrier-grade high-definition video," said Will Strauss, president and principal analyst at Forward Concepts Inc., in a statement issued by Marvell. "With the release of the Marvell 802.11ac 4x4 chip, the company is bringing to market a low-power solution that offers a significant increase in Wi-Fi bandwidth capacity. As the first wireless provider to introduce a 4x4 802.11ac chip, Marvell is building on its tradition of delivering solutions that alleviate design challenges and enhance the end-user experience."

- Dylan McGrath
??EE Times

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