Linksys speeds Sebastian Anthony 300x180Real world tests at 400-500 megabits. Sebastian Anthony at Extremetech tested the Linksys 1900/Quantenna getting 449 Mbps, as you can see in the picture at right. Reviewers at Amazon tested at similar speeds. Swisscom and several cable guys are very happy with the Quantenna chips; anecdotally, 9 times out of 10 Quantenna-based gateways connect the whole house at TV speeds. The full rated speed of 1.3 gigabits is actually possible if you have two of these units connected with 4 antennas each and the right environment. Update 2/23 John Cioffi reminds me that .ac achieves the highest speeds by using 160 MHz. In any crowded environment, that won't be possible.

Loring Wirbel, possibly the best tech reporter of my generation, reports four major vendors are promising similar chips. Linley, where he now works, has given me permission to quote from his report on the chips from CES. It is a good thing we have multiple sources because the reviews of 801.11ac routers report plenty of problems despite prices over $200. With more vendors and more chips, the chances are good at least some of the vendors will get the kinks out. 

Linksys 1900 300x187It's now 20 years since Arogyaswami Paulraj invented MIMO, which uses multiple antennas to get far more bandwidth. His Stanford colleague, Andrea Goldsmith, was a founder of Quantenna, the first to make the leap to 4x4 antennas. After many years of skepticism, MIMO is now creating a revolution in WiFi capacity. MIMO in many urban environments raises speeds by 2-8 times. There's more to come. 4G LTE is also designed to go to 8 antennas and deliver gigabit speeds.

There's a battle on for wireless spectrum with the telcos wanting it for LTE and those consumer oriented wanting WiFi protected. I'm moderating a webinar on spectrum with Marconi Fellows John Cioffi and Marty Cooper Feb 25. Join us. 

Here are excerpts from Loring's report on 802.11ac chips.

CES Sees New MU-MIMO Chipsets

By Loring Wirbel

Leading Wi-Fi chipset vendors touted their next-generation MU-MIMO platforms at the recent Consumer Electronics Show. Broadcom, Marvell, Qualcomm Atheros, and Quantenna.expect a rush of 802.11ac Wave 2 access points (APs).  

Quantenna was first to sample a true 4x4 MIMO chipset, basing its design on the older QHS710 for 802.11n MIMO systems. The QSR1000 reached production in 3Q13. The company showed prototypes of its promised QSR10G 10Gbps design implementing 8x8 MU-MIMO, but it didn’t announce sampling. ...

In 1H14, when Qualcomm Atheros introduced its first MU-MIMO designs, Broadcom countered with a two-radio solution called XStream, which uses two 5GHz radios and a third for 2.4GHz. Now, by sampling the BCM4366 for 4x4 MU-MIMO, the company is taking a dual-track approach. Even as XStream continues to find favor in lower-cost dual-band modems, Broadcom is supporting full 4x4 MU-MIMO for Wave 2 devices. The BCM4366 can operate on its own in gateways and set-top boxes. It integrates its own ARM Cortex-A7 CPU and can also serve with a companion BCM47094 processor, which integrates a dual-core 1.4GHz Cortex-A9 with an Ethernet switch and USB3.0 port.

Marvell, meanwhile, says its Avastar 86W8964 is the first 4x4 MIMO chipset to support 160MHz channels and 2.6Gbps speeds along with 802.11mc precision-location features. 



Loring's note didn't include MediaTek but based on this press release their chip appears similar.



MediaTek Reveals the Future of Premium Wireless Connectivity With Its New MT7615 SoC

802.11ac Wave2 chipset with MU-MIMO support designed for high-end home gateway, set-top box, video bridge, router and enterprise-class AP


Las Vegas – Jan. 6, 2015 – MediaTek today announces the release of MT7615, the most advanced 802.11ac System on Chip (SoC) for Wi-Fi connectivity. MediaTek once again demonstrates its commitment to leading Wi-Fi technology through the MU-MIMO and beamforming techniques deployed in MT7615.

MT7615 creates a competitive benchmark in premium Wi-Fi for greater performance in home coverage and enterprise-class security. Its Wi-Fi Quality of Service feature is designed to support low power consumption, giving end users the high throughput experience in both short and long ranges on 2.4GHz and 5GHz channels, whether in a single-user or crowded multi-user environment.

“This latest Wi-Fi product by MediaTek is the industry’s most powerful and energy-efficient SoC for home routers and enterprise APs. It is a prime example of MediaTek’s dedication to putting high-end, inclusive technology into the hands of everyone,” said S.R. Tsai, General Manager of Wireless Connectivity and Networking BU at MediaTek.

MT7615 uses industry-leading, fully integrated high-performance FEM, or external FEM, to deliver HD/4K video and high-speed data in home or office environments. With beamforming and advanced MU-MIMO support, it can support four users simultaneously, increasing the spectral efficiency of today’s wireless environments.

Designed with MediaTek’s 4x4x4 (4Transmitter, 4Receiver and 4Spatial Stream), MT7615 SoC enables service providers and enterprises to provide top-performing Wi-Fi experience to their customers. It fully complies with IEEE 802.11ac (Wave1 and Wave2) and is compatible with IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n standards, which enables it to vastly improve existing networks. The SoC also combines with MediaTek’s powerful MT7623 Quad Core ARM-based network processing unit, with built-in 1x1 Wi-Fi for sniffer, background scan and spectrum analyzer purposes, plus Bluetooth connectivity for speakers and wearable devices. The result is an industry-leading wireless platform that enables the best connectivity solution for the highest quality Wi-Fi experience.

In addition, MT7623 consumes the least amount of power with Dynamic Voltage Frequency Scaling enabled, compared with similar products available on the market today.

MT7615 will be available for sampling in Q2 2015 with mass production underway in Q3 2015.