Qualcomm’s 802.11ax Chips Usher In Next Generation Wi-Fi With 1.8 Gbps Peak Speeds

Just when you've gone and upgraded your home network to 802.11ac (Wireless-AC) territory, Qualcomm comes out today and starts talking about a fancy new standard, 802.11ax. More specifically, Qualcomm unveiled what it says is the first end-to-end 802.11ax portfolio with new system-on-chip (SoC) solutions for network infrastructure (IPQ8074) and client devices (QCA6290).

This is the next generation of wireless connectivity and as is the case with every generational leap, it is a faster solution than the one it will ultimately replace. In this case, 802.11ax can deliver up to 1.8Gbps on the client side through Dual Band Simultaneous (DBS) combining 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, all while consuming two-thirds less power than 802.11ac. That is a 4x increase in theoretical throughput.


Qualcomm did not focus on raw speed alone. In today's world, it seems just about every gadget has an Internet connection. The fast growing Internet of Things (IoT) category has more devices than ever vying for throughput. It's no longer just our computers and smartphones, but a bevy of smart products. To account for the changing landscape, Qualcomm focused on capacity, too.

“CAPACITY— not peak speed—has become the most important measure of a network’s ability to handle the ever-increasing demands of today’s diverse mix of application and services," said Rahul Patel, senior vice president & general manager, connectivity, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. "We were the first to commercialize capacity utilization-focused solutions, such as MU-MIMO, Wi-Fi SON and 802.11ad, and are now on the front lines of 11ax innovation that will propel the Wi-Fi industry into the next phase of high-capacity, high-efficiency networks. The transformative features of our 802.11ax solutions are designed to enable our customers to meet these demands, ensuring ample Wi-Fi capacity for richer connected experiences."

Adding capacity takes place on the broadcasting side. Qualcomm's IPQ8074 quadruples capacity by utilizing a 12x12 configuration, uplink and downlink MU-MIMO, and by supporting eight 80Mhz streams. The SoC is capable of dishing out up to 4.8Gbps to maintain fast connections over large coverage areas.

Qualcomm expects to sample both SoCs in the first half of 2017.