Over the past few months, several vendors have launched products in the Wi-Fi 7 (802.11be) space. Mediatek demonstrated the operation of 802.11be-compliant silicon as part of the Filogic line earlier this year. Concrete technical details and part numbers were not announced at the event. Last month, Broadcom showed off a comprehensive Wi-Fi 7 portfolio, detailing multiple 802.11be radios for access points, a network SoC built with 802.11be bandwidth in mind, and a client radio for mobile applications. .
Wi-Fi 7 / 802.11be Background
The 802.11 task force focused on 802.11be at extremely high throughput. This was achieved mainly through a combination of three different aspects:
- Support for up to 16 spatial streams
- Support for channel widths up to 320 MHz (with operation in the 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz and 6 GHz bands)
- Support for 4096-QAM (4K-QAM) resulting in better use of available spectrum (a faster modulation/coding scheme).
It should be noted that wider channels are only available in the 5 GHz and 6 GHz bands.
Theoretically, these aspects allow up to about 46 Gbps of wireless throughput. 802.11be also aims to enable the use of Wi-Fi for real-time applications by including features for low latency communications such as multi-link operation (MLO). This allows a client and an access point to communicate simultaneously on several channels which may even belong to different bands.
The 802.11be specification also enables better performance in environments with heavy interference by allowing adaptive puncturing – the desired channel does not necessarily need to be contiguous. This enhances the preamble puncture feature already available as part of the 802.11ax specification.
Interference and coexistence with non-Wi-Fi users of the same spectrum is managed using automatic frequency coordination (AFC). Unlike the Open AFC initiative (of which Broadcom is a part), Qualcomm chooses to provide its own turnkey solution to its customers.
As expected, AFC will require the Device Agent to be connected to the Internet for channel setup and power modulation purposes.
Qualcomm Wi-Fi 7 Wallet
At MWC 2022, Qualcomm provided details of its 802.11be client silicon targeting mobile devices. The FastConnect 7800 is expected to be available in the second half of 2022 and integrates Bluetooth 5.3 support with key Wi-Fi 7 features. Today, the company introduces its Wi-Fi 7 Networking access point platforms Pro Series to expand its Wi-Fi 7 portfolio.
Qualcomm began marketing its Wi-Fi solutions under the Networking Pro and FastConnect names in 2019, with the launch of its Wi-Fi 6 solutions.n/a generation products addressing the Wi-Fi 6E ecosystem, and it’s no surprise that today 3rd The general launch focuses on Wi-Fi 7.
The introduction of the Networking Pro tag has contributed to opacity in the make-up of router/AP platforms from an end-consumer perspective. Unlike Broadcom’s public announcement of basic network SoC details and characteristics of various radio options for its reference designs, Qualcomm only provides these details to its customers. Eventually, these details become public after the products are released. For example, the Networking Pro 800 platform breakdown is available here – we see a central WiSoC with integrated MAC and baseband paired with discrete radios. Therefore, it’s disappointing that Qualcomm didn’t give us much to analyze in today’s announcements beyond the basic product specs. These high-level feature specifications match Broadcom product features announced last month.
It should be noted that Qualcomm also provides the “Immersive Home” platform for entry-level Wi-Fi routers. These are generally similar to the “Networking Pro” platforms, except for the reduced number of streams and reduced WiSoC capabilities in terms of processor core count and frequencies. Since Qualcomm declined to provide details on CPU core counts or frequencies for the Networking Pro series launching today, we have to wait for an official announcement regarding their Wi-Fi 7 portfolio for the cost-sensitive segment.
The 3rd Gen series. Networking Pro consists of four members, with a number of streams ranging from 6 in the Networking Pro 620 to 16 in the Networking Pro 1620. Radio options exist for two or four streams in each of 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz and 6 GHz. bands.
Qualcomm claims peak system PHY rates of up to 33 Gbps and wireless PHY rates per channel of over 10 Gbps, with the ability to support more than 500 users in each channel.
The availability of 6 GHz spectrum for Wi-Fi is not universal. Qualcomm has indicated that different configurations of the Networking Pro 3rd Gen series are possible, depending on the allocation.
Qualcomm’s Wi-Fi 7 Networking Pro series will enable customers to create a wide range of high-end and enterprise-class wireless access points/routers. The platforms are already being sampled – we should see the market availability of the BE10000, BE16000, BE21000 and BE33000 Wi-Fi routers based on these in a few quarters.
5G-based fixed wireless access is quickly becoming an attractive option for many consumers – sometimes even as their primary broadband connection. Qualcomm’s strengths in 5G will act as a bundling strength for integrated Wi-Fi 7/5G platforms. However, Broadcom has a significant presence with service providers for 10G PON and DOCSIS 4.0. It’s likely that these high-speed ISPs will find Broadcom’s possible bundles attractive for their Wi-Fi 7-enabled consumer gateways. Until Mediatek and MaxLinear (to whom Intel sold its Home Gateway Platform division) fully unveil their cards Wi-Fi 7, it looks like the initial battle will be between Qualcomm’s 3-based products.rd Gen. Networking Pro and those using Broadcom’s Wi-Fi 7 portfolio.