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Marvell Delivers 802.11ax Powerhouse

January 16, 2018

Author: Bob Wheeler

A millennial walks into a Starbucks, connects to Google Wi-Fi, and starts a video call with his friend to discuss the latest episode of Mr. Robot. Stereotype? Perhaps, but NPD Group reported that by 2Q16, most millennials were using video calling as well as uploading video. Put enough of them in a coffee shop, airport, or stadium, and old Carrier Sense Multiple Access 802.11 protocols will deliver a miserable experience. To highlight the advantage of its new 802.11ax chips, Marvell seized on the needs of “generation upload.”

The company is sampling the 8x8 MIMO 5.0GHz 88W9068 and the 4x4 MIMO dual-band (2.4/5.0GHz) 88W9064 with integrated Bluetooth 5 (BT5). It intends these radios for enterprise and retail access points (APs), residential gateways, and fixed-wireless services. The 802.11ax chips handle one spatial stream per antenna—eight and four, respectively. They support the new OFDMA access scheme on uplinks as well as downlinks. They also add multiuser MIMO (MU-MIMO) for uplinks, whereas 802.11ac enables it only for downlinks.

The IEEE 802.11ax working group now aims to achieve technical stability in May 2018. The first consumer (retail) 802.11ax routers will probably ship in 2H18, and the Wi-Fi Alliance certification program should follow in 2H19, enabling enterprise adoption. In announcing an 802.11ax product, Marvell joins the other big Wi-Fi chip vendors: Broadcom, Qualcomm, and Quantenna. All must now move their chips to production while tracking late changes to the draft standard.

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