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Broadcom offers Wi-Fi Wave 2 chips for enterprise market

Posted: 01 May 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Broadcom? MU-MIM? Wi-Fi? Qualcomm? Quantenna?

Broadcom has announced that it has begun sampling Wave 2 Wi-Fi chips for enterprise access points to continue the move toward next generation wireless with 802.11ac. According to the company, the BCM43465 chip, a 4x4 11ac MU-MIMO (multi-user, multiple input, multiple output) and 3x3 .11ac MU-MIMO BCM43525 claim to offer increased capacity needed for evolving data rates and compatible mobile devices.

The market is ripe for improved connections, analysts say, but competition is heating up. According to Broadcom, its chips promise to deliver a 25 per cent boost in throughput and up to twice the performance of previous Wi-Fi chips.

"No one vendor is the runaway leader in this space," IHS senior analyst Stephanie Gibbons said. "Broadcom was later to the market than competitors like, Qualcomm and Quantenna, so it will have some ground to cover, but again, 802.11ac has just begun to really ramp up so it's not too late."

Broadcom's 4X4 chip has a dedicated DSP-based hardware engine, and supports up to 2.2Gb/s on 20MHz, 40MHz, 80MHz and 160MHz channels with beamforming and a novel modulation scheme. The 3x3 chip targets mid-range devices and can reach up to 1.7Gb/s. They consume 6W or less.

Although Broadcom boasts high data rates, the company's MU-MIMO offerings were expected and aren't dominating the market, Linley Group senior analyst Loring Wirbel said. Qualcomm Atheros and Sckipio will remain important players, though Broadcom may have the most diverse offerings, he said. "MU-MIMO is going to be a very diverse market, which is why Broadcom might be in good shape with 3x3 and 4x4 configurations. A lot of people are focused on the high end with 4x4 for corporate access points model...[but] you want a bunch of different access points and antenna configurations to meet different points in the market."

802.11ac enabled devices will account for more than 50 per cent of all enterprise shipments this year, said Broadcom's Mike Powell, director of marketing for enterprise wireless. "We're seeing the high end moving to 4x4, [in the] mid-range a lot of enterprises are replacing [existing devices] with 3x3 [MU-MIMO] ac. In another year or two all devices will be at least 2x2 configured," he said.

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