Blog Post

The first gigabit Wi-Fi chip for consumer devices is here

Quantenna, a startup building chips for sending massive data over Wi-Fi, has built the first gigabit chip for Wi-Fi networks and devices. Quantenna, which first got started delivering chips to boost in-home Wi-Fi to meet the demands of high-bandwidth applications, said Tuesday that its latest chip is available now for select customers for use in routers, home gateways and even consumer gadgets. Products containing the chips could hit the market in 2012.

The chips use a combination of four antennas on sending and receiving radios to deliver gigabit speeds under the planned 802.11ac standard. By using 4×4 MIMO and an ability to cover both the 2.4 GHz and the 5 GHz Wi-Fi frequencies, Quantenna says it can deliver 2 Gbps, which is awesomely fast, but pretty useless for most homes and devices today considering our home broadband speeds are much slower.

While some places are farther along in deploying gigabit networks (shout out to The Netherlands, Sweden, South Korea and Chattanooga, Tenn.), most consumers won’t see gigabit speeds in their homes for years, if ever. So is this product necessary? Not yet, but I hope it will be. We are adding more devices to the home connected via Wi-Fi, so a more robust network is always welcome. For more on the 802.11 standard, check out the interview I did with Craig Barratt, the head of Qualcomm’s (s qcom) Atheros business.

5 Responses to “The first gigabit Wi-Fi chip for consumer devices is here”

  1. The key value proposition with 11ac is wider band in 5 GHz (40/80/160 MHz) and MU-MIMO – Multi-user MIMO. with the wider band, you can do device-device (PC to disk etc) sync at much faster rates when you are close by (perhaps upto 300-400 Mbit/sec) in the Direct-WiFi mode. With MU-MIMO, you can dedicate antennas channels for say different TVs. 20Mbit/sec is good enough to distribute video over WiFi. with a 4×4 antenna, you can group 2 antennas for that one TV. When you get to say an 8×4 (little expensive, but still cheaper than pulling a wire), you can see the benefit of media distribution to devices that are fixed.

  2. An important consideration beyond raw data rate is throughput. Lots of folks in the wireless space focus on peak speeds rather than time required to send large files (some baseline throughput/goodput). One can easily imagine applications such as Apple’s airplay for lots of different media inputs, outputs & formats. Delivering a baseline speed with high quality & low error rate will likely be more useful than a peak speed number.