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Qualcomm announces chips with next generation Wi-Fi

The 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard arrived a few years ago and has become the new standard for long enough, it has found its way into everything except the cheapest phones and laptops. It’s going to stay as a mainstream standard for at least a couple more years, but just a few days ago, a new replacement appeared on the horizon.

Qualcomm has announced a pair of chips compatible with the new 802.11ax standard. The IPQ8074 is a quad-core 14nm SoC for wireless routers and enterprise access points, and it promises peak speeds of 4.8Gbps across eight 5GHz streams and four 2.4GHz streams, though that peak theoretical speed won’t necessarily be what you can expect to see from client devices. On the client side, the QCA6290 chip for laptops, smartphones, and tablets promises peak speeds of 1.775Gbps across two streams.

What is 802.11ax?

802.11ax is the next wireless communications standard in the IEEE’s long-standing series of 802.11 standards, which form the basis for the technology we generally just call Wi-Fi. IEEE 802.11 ax is a type of WLAN in the IEEE 802.11 set of types of WLANs. It is designed to improve overall spectral efficiency. It is still in a very early stage of development, but is predicted to have a top speed of around 10 Gb/s[1] (as tested by Huawei), it works in 2.4 and/or 5 GHz, in addition to MIMO and MU-MIMO it introduces OFDMA technique to improve spectral efficiency and also higher order 1024 QAM modulation support for better throughputs. It is due to be publicly released in 2019.

The final 802.11ax specification hasn’t actually been finalized yet, and it’s not expected to be finished until 2019, but this is hardly the first time that device makers have attempted to get a jump on new Wi-Fi technologies by announcing and releasing “draft-compliant” devices.

“We are excited about the potential impact that 802.11ax will have in the home and small businesses,” said David Henry, senior vice president, home networking, NETGEAR. “802.11ax is not an incremental upgrade to keep pace with today’s demands. The technology will reset the bar for what matters most in networking, and will lay the foundation of network capacity for years to come.”

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