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Qualcomm announces two new second-wave Wi-Fi 11ac processors

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Qualcomm QCA9984
Qualcomm QCA9984

Qualcomm has announced two new processors intended to power the next generation of both home and business wi-fi routers.

The QCA9984 and QCA9994 incorporate the latest in 11ac Wi-Fi features for faster transfer speeds and better support for multiple devices.

So called second-wave 11ac devices are already hitting the market but Qualcomms new chips will be the first second-generation of these chips, bringing further speed and reliability improvements.

Second wave 11ac is the upgrade to the existing 11ac standard that introduces multi-user MIMO (MU-MIMO) and up to 4 spacial streams.

The latter is the signature feature of second wave devices as it’s why routers using these chips have four antennae. These four can be used all together to support even greater maximum throughput on compatible devices. First wave 11ac could handle up to three streams.

As for MU-MIMO, it’s a fundamental change to the way Wi-Fi works. First wave 11ac and previous Wi-Fi systems use a single-user system whereby the router connects to one device at a time, continually rotating the connection to service multiple devices at once – even if it could use multiple antennae to connect to each device. MU-MIMO allows simultaneous connection to multiple devices, taking advantage of the multiple spatial streams.

MU-MIMO thus allows for either multiple spatial streams to connect to one device for faster transfers or up to four devices at once without dropping connectivity to any of the devices.

These latest chips further enhance these features by adding support for 160Mhz but with the option that the two 80MHz channels that comprise it no longer having to be contiguous, thus enabling the faster of the two channels to be picked out in congested scenarios.

Also supported are 5 and 10MHz narrow channels for public safety and security uses.

These new chips are pin-compatible with Qualcomms previous second wave chips, the QCA 9980 and QCA9990, as found in the Netgear R7500, for instance. So expect upgraded versions to be arriving fairly shortly.

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