Qualcomm Atheros Goes Wideband for MU-MIMO, 802.11ac Hybrid for HomePlug AV2

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Tim Higgins

Qualcomm Atheros logoQualcomm Atheros made two announcements at Computex 2015.

The company announced new members of its MU | EFX 802.11ac MU-MIMO device family. The QCA9984 for home routers and QCA9994 for enterprise access points are 4×4 MU-MIMO devices with enhanced features.

They are pin-compatible replacements for QCA998x and QCA999x devices, designed to allow end-product makers an easy upgrade path for current designs.

The new devices support 160 MHz contiguous and 80+80 MHz non-contiguous 802.11ac channels. The QCA9994 also supports 5/10 MHz narrow channels for public safety applications. The devices feature bandwidth agility to allow the radio to move quickly between channel widths on a packet-by-packet basis, improving total bandwidth use in mixed networks.

MU-MIMO performance has been enhanced to support up to four streams for up to three clients in a single MU-MIMO transmission. Current 4×4 MU-MIMO products support up to three streams for the same three clients. This means two 2×2 MU-MIMO devices could be supported per MU-MIMO timeslot vs. one.

QCA said the new devices are sampling now and named TP-LINK as using the QCA9984. Quotes from NETGEAR, Linksys, Amped Wireless, Aruba Networks and Hitron were also in the press release.

NETGEAR was also quoted in today’s Broadcom announcement of its MU-MIMO 4×4 XStream device. So it looks like NETGEAR will have a tent in both MU-MIMO camps.

Linksys has already shipped its EA8500 [reviewed], the first consumer router to support MU-MIMO using QCA’s current QCA9980 4-stream 802.11ac MU-MIMO radio.

Linksys EA8500 Max-Stream AC2600 MU-MIMO Smart Wi-Fi Router

Linksys EA8500 Max-Stream AC2600 MU-MIMO Smart Wi-Fi Router

In a separate announcement, QCA announced a hybrid wireless range extender combining HomePlug AV2 MIMO powerline and 802.11ac wireless. The REH152, range extender reference design, combines the QCA7500 HomePlug AV2 MIMO chipset with QCA9882 and QCA9563 2×2 802.11ac SoCs to create a powerline-connected cocurrent dual-band, AC1200 class extender that includes a Gigabit Ethernet port. The REH152 is currently sampling and the development kits are available now. Network product maker ZINWELL was quoted in the release.

Also announced was the PL29 HomePlug AV2 SISO solution designed for mainstream segments with high price sensitivity. The PL29 supports a Max PHY rate of 600 Mbps using the AR7420 powerline device. The PL29 is currently sampling and the development kits are available now.

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