Qualcomm boosts Wi-Fi performance for maximum 11ac throughput

The current products on the market just aren't strong enough to get the full potential of 802.11ac, but Qualcomm says it has a solution.

Qualcomm, though its Atheros subsidiary, has introduced the Qualcomm Internet Processor (IPQ) product line to boost the signal strength and throughput of next-generation wireless routers and access points.

As the Internet of Everything slowly creeps into our homes and businesses, there will be an abundance of devices that need to access a wireless router or access point. The 802.11ac protocol developed over the last two years has some considerable through put – at least 1 gigabit per second and a single link throughput of at least 500 megabits per second.

However, Qualcomm found that the chips powering current routers, which use the 802.11n standard, weren't up to snuff to push through that much data. "A lot of products took 11n designs, replaced the radio with higher throughput, but the processor became the bottleneck," explained Todd Antes, vice president of product management at Qualcomm Atheros.

If you buy some of the few 11ac products on the market now, the class of processors in those devices is not able to sustain the maximum throughput, so they don't get the benefit of 11ac, he added. Reviewers find the router gets maybe 75% of the router's full potential throughput.

IPQ should do the trick, at least on paper. It consists of a dual-core 1.4 GHz Krait CPU paired with Atheros's new dual-core 730 MHz Packet Processor Engine, designed to offload network traffic. The two chips support up to 5 Gbps of aggregate capacity across LTE, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, HomePlug powerline, hybrid wired/wireless, and Ethernet.

IPQ isn't intended so much for one device using all the bandwidth as it is designed for dozens of devices using a little bandwidth. Qualcomm foresees a time when there will be 30 to 50 connected devices in a home. So the Internet gateway will need to be able to handle that traffic from many devices at once.

Qualcomm started sampling the chip in August. It estimates the earliest products will appear in the first quarter of 2014, and hit the shelves in the second quarter.

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