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Qualcomm Updates Wi-Fi 6 Portfolio

September 24, 2019

Author: Bob Wheeler

Will the real Wi-Fi 6 please stand up, please stand up? Chip vendors have been marketing 802.11ax products since 2017, but the Wi-Fi Alliance just launched its Wi-Fi Certified 6 program, which gives the official compliance stamp. The alliance announced the consumer-friendly Wi-Fi 6 branding last October as a break from IEEE 802’s cryptic nomenclature, and the certification program is due by year-end. Qualcomm preempted that program last month by announcing updates to its 802.11ax products for smartphones and network infrastructure, although much of the news was simply rebranding.

For routers and access points, the company announced four Networking Pro Series lines with x00 numbering where x denotes the number of spatial streams; the top-end Pro Series 1200 handles 12 streams. The SoC has quad Cortex-A53 CPUs operating at 2.2GHz and dual 10G Ethernet ports, and it handles up to eight 5GHz and four 2.4GHz (8+4) streams. For the other end of this networking family, the company developed the Pro Series 400, a four-stream chipset with lower cost and power. It offers the same CPU complex as the 1200 but clocks at only 1.0GHz.

For its mobile platforms, Qualcomm rebranded its Wi-Fi features as FastConnect. Its current Snapdragon 855 chipset includes the FastConnect 6200, which comprises the WCN3998 radio plus the application processor’s integrated Wi-Fi baseband. The 6200, however, lacks support for uplink multiuser MIMO (MU-MIMO). The next top-end Snapdragon platform will integrate the FastConnect 6800, which adds uplink MU-MIMO and upgrades its Bluetooth subsystem to 5.1.

The Pro Series 1200 and FastConnect 6800 are both part of the Wi-Fi Certified 6 test bed. Now that the Wi-Fi Alliance is certifying products, Qualcomm stands out with certified Wi-Fi 6 for both smartphones and infrastructure.

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