Intel Announces 802.11ax Chipsets for Faster Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi is the life force of connectivity. This is true in my home, where my family connects more and more devices each year — and not a single one is connected with a wire. My two boys are the heavy-bandwidth consumers; they game and stream A LOT of YouTube and Netflix content.

When Wi-Fi works smarter, consumers — my family included — get faster, smoother content streaming, online gaming, video calls and Internet browsing. In short, they get more fulfilling and productive experiences, and I get fewer complaints as the go-to home IT guy. That’s why Intel has always committed our technical and commercial expertise to the development of Wi-Fi standards and to offering leading Wi-Fi products.

The newest — and most exciting — IEEE standard for Wi-Fi, 802.11ax, is coming soon. In 2018, Intel will expand its home Wi-Fi portfolio with new 802.11ax chipsets for mainstream 2x2 and 4x4 home routers and gateways for cable, xDSL, fiber and consumer retail devices.

Delivering on the promise of performance

There’s good reason for the industry’s enthusiasm about 802.11ax. The new standard will offer significant improvements over its predecessor, 802.11ac. It’s expected to deliver up to 40 percent higher peak data rates for a single client device1 and improve average throughput per user by at least four times2 in dense or congested environments. It will also increase network efficiency and extend the battery life of client devices.

These performance enhancements are coming just in time to answer new demands in the smart and connected home. 802.11ax offers a path to faster, more intelligent Wi-Fi to support an increasing number of connected devices, the growing popularity of streaming HD content and the proliferation of smart home appliances and security systems.

Ensuring optimal experiences

When adopting a new standard, it’s critical to make sure infrastructure and client devices will work together smoothly. Problems with compatibility can cause a fair amount of frustration for end users, especially if they have equipment that does not work well with the latest 802.11ax client devices (laptops, 2 in 1s, etc.). Intel’s new chipsets will be based on Draft 2.0 of 802.11ax. This is important since a more mature draft — Draft 2.0 or higher — will be the baseline for 802.11ax certification, and Wi-Fi CERTIFIED* is the only way to truly guarantee multivendor interoperability. To further improve the user experience, Intel is also enabling optimizations between our 802.11ax offerings for client devices and home infrastructure devices.

In contrast, infrastructure devices based on 802.11ax Draft 1.0 chipsets (or variations of Draft 1.0) may not be interoperable with client devices based on Draft 2.0 chipsets. That could result in a suboptimal experience in which consumers could see degraded throughput, decreases in network efficiency and increased interference.

Achieving optimal user experience with 802.11ax

Making a smooth transition

To help OEMs smoothly transition to the new standard, designs based on Intel’s 802.11ac infrastructure chipset — the Intel® Home Wi-Fi Chipset WAV500 Series — can upgrade to 802.11ax with no change to the host SoC. In addition, Intel’s new 802.11ax home Wi-Fi chipsets will offer backward compatibility with older Wi-Fi technologies to support a breadth of client devices.

Intel’s 802.11ax home Wi-Fi chipsets are architected for our connected, digital lifestyles. Most notably, the chipsets allow up to 256 devices to share bandwidth simultaneously, delivering consistent connectivity even as more devices connect to the gateway or router. In addition, the chipset is engineered to deliver enhanced throughput rates for a mix of small and large packet sizes. This helps ensure optimal performance for devices, as well as low latency for applications like gaming, video and voice calls. Plus, wireless traffic is fully offloaded from the SoC to the Wi-Fi chipset, giving the primary computing engine dedicated bandwidth for software and security functions.

Backed by years of experience helping introduce new standards to the marketplace, Intel is prepared to help drive a successful launch of 802.11ax and ensure consumers get the best possible Wi-Fi experience.

  1. “Nearly 40 percent higher peak data rates” claims are based on the comparison of the expected maximum theoretical data rates for dual spatial stream 802.11ax 160 MHz (2402 Mbps) vs. dual spatial stream 802.11ac 160 MHz (1733 Mbps) Wi-Fi solutions as documented in IEEE 802.11ax Draft 2.0 spec and IEEE 802.11-2016 wireless standard specifications, and require the use of similarly configured 802.11ax wireless network routers.The amendment defines standardized modifications to both the IEEE 802.11 physical layers (PHY) and the IEEE 802.11 Medium Access Control (MAC) layer that enable at least one mode of operation capable of supporting at least four times improvement in the average throughput per station (measured at the MAC data service access point) in a dense deployment scenario, while maintaining or improving the power efficiency per station. For additional details visit the IEEE Standards Association page to learn more about 802.11ax Standards for Information Technology.

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Doron Tal

About Doron Tal

Doron Tal is the General Manager of the Wireless Infrastructure Group in Intel’s Smart & Connected Home Division. He brings over 20 years of experience in networking semiconductors and broadband access. Doron joined Intel in 2016 to lead a platform product marketing team for connected home infrastructure products. Under Doron’s leadership, the team focused on increasing the attach rate of Wi-Fi technology to connected home platforms across retail, cable and telco segments. Prior to Intel, Doron led Broadcom’s Fiber Access business and was previously the vice president of marketing and business development at BroadLight which was acquired by Broadcom in 2012.