October 11, 2011, 2:32 PM — Xirrus has revamped its Wi-Fi arrays, making the cake-like housing thinner, adding optional modular 450Mbps 802.11n radios, beefing up the on-board network processors, and boosting range and signal quality with a new directional antenna design.
In addition, the new XR series can be configured for as few as four or as many 16 radios. With up to four Gigabit Ethernet ports to backhaul the Wi-Fi traffic, the XR arrays are designed to create high-capacity WLAN networks. Xirrus executives say capacity becomes critical as enterprises upgrade to high-throughput 802.11n, and face the influx of Wi-Fi enabled smartphones, tablets and a host of other devices.
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From its founding, Xirrus, based in Thousand Oaks, Calif., has taken a maverick approach to WLANs: It bundles the WLAN controller with four, eight or 16 access points, and a special sectored directional antenna, into a single package, providing wide coverage and high capacity. Among its customers is Carnegie Mellon University, in Pittsburgh, Pa. CMU made the unusual decision to choose two WLAN providers: Aruba for the classrooms and administrative areas, and Xirrus for dormitories and buildings housing bandwidth-hungry engineering and computer science studies.
The previous arrays were 19 inches in diameter, about 5 inches thick, and could be packed with eight, 12 or 16 radios. The new models come in either 13- or 17-inch diameters, and are just 3 inches thick.
The smaller unit, the XR-4000 models, can be fitted with four or eight radios, each one delivering either 300Mbps or, with support for 3 MIMO data streams, 450Mbps. The four-radio models support up to 320 users; the eight-radio unites up to 640. Both have two Gigabit Ethernet ports.
The XR-6000 models can have eight, 12, or 16 of the same radios. Total bandwidth ranges from 2.4Gbps to 7.2Gbps. They can support from 640 to 1,280 users. Each of these models has four Gigabit backhaul ports.
As with earlier models, the new XR line incorporates a multi-gigabit switch, wireless controller, radio frequency threat sensor and a firewall.
The per-radio pricing is aggressive, according to Xirrus executives: $250 for the 300Mbps radio and $300 for the 450Mbps version. The modular radios give enterprise IT more control over buying just what they need and adding radios as demand grows.