Qualcomm Atheros Takes Off Running In the 802.11ac Race

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Tim Higgins

Qualcomm Atheros (QCA) was conspicuously absent from the 802.11ac hype at last month’s CES. But today, the company pulled back its curtain and revealed five new 802.11ac devices, summarized in the table below.

Part Number Description
WCN3680 1×1 802.11ac combo Wi-Fi/Bluetooth/FM
QCA9860 802.11ac/a/b/g/n and Bluetooth combo (3-stream)
QCA9862 802.11ac/a/b/g/n and Bluetooth combo (2-stream)
QCA9880 3×3 802.11ac/a/b/g/n PCIe SoC
QCA9882 2×2 802.11ac/a/b/g/n PCIe SoC
QCA 802.11ac device portfolio

As you might guess, QCA’s focus is on mobile, with the biggest push behind the WCN3680. This 802.11ac/Bluetooth/FM combo devices mates with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon S4 dual-core MSM8960 and quad-core APQ8064 "Krait" architecture processors that are targeted at smartphone and tablet devices.

The company has designed the WCN3680 to be a pin-compatible drop-in replacement for its WCN3660 802.11n mobile device. This will allow mobile product manufacturers to offer higher 802.11ac speeds on high-end devices to better support device-to-device Wi-Fi Direct data transfer and wireless screen "throwing" using Wi-Fi Display.

The WCN3680 will be demoed at the Mobile World Congress next week in Barcelona and sampling is set to begin next quarter.

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