Each radio has a newly designed, high-gain directional antenna, covering a sector of about 60 degrees in the 5GHz band, and about 120 degrees in the 2.4GHz band. As a result, the antennas can sustain the higher 11n throughput levels over longer distances, and the sectored design devotes one radio to a group of clients within its coverage area, without side-by-side interference. Xirrus says the XR array can cover four times the area of a conventional Wi-Fi access point.
With the new hardware comes a new release of the company's WLAN management application, Xirrus Management System (XMS) 6.0. The new version can identify different types of Wi-Fi clients, and policies and reporting can be adjusted accordingly. The version can designate any radio in an array to act as a temporary or dedicated sniffer. It now supports more signatures to detect wireless intrusions. For the first time, XMS can run as a virtual appliance under VMware.
The eight-slot XR-4000 models and Xirrus Management System version 6.0 are available now; system pricing varies based on the number of radios per array, the choice of 300Mbps or 450Mbps radios and chassis configurations. The 16-slot XR-6000 models will be available in December. The XR's modular radio design means you'll be able to plug in 60GHz, 802.11ac radios, with gigabit throughput ("The Next Wi-Fi," as Network World blogger Craig Mathias calls it in a recent blog post) as these become available, probably starting in the first half of 2012.
John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World.
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