Broadcom unveils fifth-generation 802.11ac Wi-Fi chips



The following article summarizes the latest developments in chipsets, the foundation for all technology. Note that the following is only one of many that integrates wireless capabilities, with power saving features and significantly enhanced data speeds.

Last weekend, Broadcom introduced its latest consolidated multi-wireless chips, a combination of Bluetooth 4.0 and the forthcoming 802.11ac, which offers more than twice the speed of existing 802.11n technology and yet is up to six times more power-efficient handling the same amount of data. The new chips can also handle FM and conventional 802.11 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, and are expected to debut in early 2013 for use in smartphones and tablets.

This new chip:

  • Uses a 40-nanometer CMOS process;
  • Integrates a full Wi-Fi system -- including MAC, PHY and RF;
  • Can enter a low-power mode (and come out of it) nearly instantly, providing significant power savings when the system is not actively being used;
  • Is also said to be dramatically better than current 802.11 technology, with throughput topping 1Gb (gigabit) per second;
  • Can sit alongside “4G” LTE cellular radios, avoiding interference issues;
  • Can be used on ultraportables, tablets, Smartphones;
  • Is expected (by Broadcom) to be ubiquitous in mobile devices by 2016.

The chips may not be ready in time for inclusion in fall release of Smartphones and tablets, but may be used in other devices like routers.

The company notes that “most streamed video is now viewed on devices other than traditional desktop PCs, and that mobile data traffic is expected to grow 18-fold over the next four years. The new chip, known as the BCM4335, is sampling now. The current iPhone 4S is using a Qualcomm-made transceiver chip, but the new iPad uses Broadcom's BCM4330, so it will be interesting to see if the next generation of devices consolidates the Wi-Fi radio chipset towards either company.”

Editor Comments

Jakob Nielsen, the creator of “Nielsen’s Law of Internet Bandwidth” has postulated that Internet connection speed grows at the rate of 50% per year. If we review the release and capabilities of wireless speeds against this hypothesis (see below) we can see that it has occurred. If this trend continues consumers should expect bandwidth speeds at multi Gigabits in the near future.

Call to Action

While the detractors from Moore-like laws speculate that trends like this cannot continue forever, it is impossible (without an engineering degree and a crystal ball) to tell what part of the curve we are on now. Expectations are, at least, that the requirement for increased data speeds will continue indefinitely.

Obviously IT executives should remain current on foundational technology developments and at the same time balance technology capabilities with consumer requirements and expectations. One of the main tasks that any technologist has is to properly set expectations. This will become more pronounced - now that the consumer seems to be driving the market.

It should be noted that as the handheld “smart” devices become more complex, the support and effort to maintain these devices might grow in step with these Moore-like curves.


Original Article


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Nielsen’s Law of Internet Bandwidth