Broadcom to unveil four faster Wi-Fi chips

The 802.11ac silicon will break the Gigabit barrier, Broadcom said

By , IDG News Service |  Unified Communications, 802.11ac, Broadcom

With its initial 11ac lineup, Broadcom will focus on chips for use in PCs, routers, TVs, set-top boxes and other home products. At CES, it will demonstrate four products: the BCM4360 three-stream chip with a PCIe interface for PCs and network gear; the BCM4352 with a PCIe interface and the BCM43526 with a USB interface, both with two-stream radios; and the BCM43516 with a single-stream radio and a USB interface. USB interfaces can be used both for external Wi-Fi clients that plug into a USB port and for internal components built into a products such as TVs or set-top boxes, Hurlston said.

Chips for 11ac Wi-Fi in mobile phones, which will need different interfaces, will come later this year from Broadcom, Hurlston said. And for now, the company is not building to another specification in the standard that uses an even wider frequency band of 160MHz for a theoretical speed of nearly 2G bps. Devices won't get access to that many frequencies in very many settings, so 160MHz products are less practical, according to Hurlston.

Other silicon vendors are also lining up to deliver 11ac components. Broadcom rival Qualcomm Atheros said it will enable its manufacturing customers to deliver products in time for Wi-Fi Alliance certification in late 2012. Intel was not immediately available for comment. Research firm In-Stat has forecast that the new standard will ship in more than 350 million products per year by 2015.

Broadcom's CES demonstrations won't be as colorful as the company's promise of better video streaming might suggest. In its booth, Broadcom will simply measure the speed of throughput on 802.11ac connections and display those numbers, Hurlston said.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

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